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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile has proposed amendments to the draft bill of Trade Dispute Settlement Act (TDSA) 2018.

The proposed act aims at providing swift and effective resolution of disputes relating to exports as well as imports.

The standing committee meeting, chaired by Siraj Muhammad Khan, was given a briefing by Additional Secretary Commerce Division Javed Bhatti on the constitution of a commission under the TDSA.

The committee rejected Commerce Division’s proposal of a retired judge heading the commission. It was suggested that the commission can be led by any person who has a Graduate Degree instead of a Masters. The proposed commission will comprise of five members and will be led by the committee chairman.

Under the act, a Trade Dispute Resolution Commission will be established with its headquarters at Islamabad and regional offices at provincial capitals including Azad Jammu and Kashmir. However, the detailed rules are under preparation.

Mr Bhatti said dispute resolution will help promote international trade in Pakistan by aligning trade governance with international best practices under the World Trade Organisation and United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) models.

Dispute resolution includes negotiations, conciliation, arbitration, determinations, alternative dispute resolution mechanism and referral of disputes to commercial benches.

The committee suggested that rules should be framed keeping in view expeditious dispute resolution.

DG IPO Irfan Tarar apprised the committee that the Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO), in compliance with Committee’s directions, is in coordination with the concerned quarters to establish its Regional Offices at Peshawar and Quetta.

He said draft IPO Rules are under review at the Establishment and Finance Divisions and may take another four months to finalise.

For complaint resolution, IPO has established Anti-Piracy and Anti-Counterfeiting Cells at Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

IPO is actively coordinating with the IP tribunals in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore for timely disposal of Intellectual Property cases, the body was informed.

The committee urged IPO to finalise the rules at the earliest.

The committee also considered a petition filed by Royal Group for promotion of pharmaceutical exports to non-traditional markets. The pharma industry plays a vital role in manufacturing sector by generating employment and attracting investment.

Despite a declining trend in the overall exports, pharmaceutical exports registered an increase of 26pc over the last 5 years from $169.6million (2012-13) to $213m (2016-17). The petitioner invited the committee’s attention towards the non-payment of customs rebate for the last five years. Similarly, payment of sales tax refund is pending for the last 3 years, the NA body was informed.

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2018