Senate committee asks ministry to explain reasons for stagnant exports

Published June 29, 2021
Senator Saleem Mandviwalla raised the issue that exports had remained stagnant at 2013 level of  $24bn in FY21. — AFP/File
Senator Saleem Mandviwalla raised the issue that exports had remained stagnant at 2013 level of $24bn in FY21. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Commerce has asked the Ministry of Commerce to explain reasons for stagnant export proceeds from the country in the last decade with Pakistan also lagging behind in the region.

The committee chaired by Senator Zeeshan Khanzada on Monday showed its concerns over the low exports and sought reasons from the commerce ministry in the next meeting.

Senator Saleem Mandviwalla raised the issue that exports had remained stagnant at 2013 level of $24bn in FY21. “We are also lagging behind Bangladesh and Vietnam having annual export earnings of $50bn and $100bn, respectively,” he added.

Mr Khanzada directed the commerce ministry to state the reasons as to why exports are not increasing as compared to other developing countries. The meeting also summoned Commerce Adviser Razak Dawood.

The committee also asked the commerce ministry to evaluate the performance of commercial attaché on a regular basis and should organise exhibitions abroad to showcase Pakistani products to increase exports.

Secretary Commerce Saleh Farooqi briefed the committee on the performance of the ministry. He said Pakistan’s exports on average stood at $2bn per month this year. He said exports fell drastically last year due to Covid-19.

Mr Farooqi said that export proceeds will be good in the month of June.

On the policy issues, he said that summary of the Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2021-25 is pending with the Economic Coordination Committee for approval. He further said that the draft of the domestic commerce policy is in the final stages.

The secretary further said that the IT policy and export policy have also been prepared. He said that e-commerce and National Tariff Policy have been approved by the cabinet. Export Policy Order and Import Policy Order have also been approved while Geographical Indications Act 2020 is being implemented.

Replying to a question of Senator Fida Mohammad, the commerce secretary said that the production of basmati rice is underway in different districts of Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.In the meeting of the committee, the deputy chairman of the senate Qasim Suri demanded a briefing on the free trade agreement with the GCC countries.

Asked by Senator Nuzhat Sadiq about Amazon, the commerce secretary said that all issues in this regard had been resolved. “Now the people concerned are going to start the process of training and courses,” he added.

Senator Khanzada termed the complexities faced in transit trade as an important issue and sought a detailed briefing from the commerce ministry.

Briefing the committee, Commerce Adviser Razak Dawood said that industries in Pakistan were closing when the government took over, imports continued to rise and exports had been falling.

He said the ministry of commerce formulated a strategic policy and presented it to Prime Minister Imran Khan. Under the proposed policy, the range of export items was increased, he said, adding that new products were being brought forward instead of the traditional ones.

He further said that attention has been paid to other areas including food processing, IT, pharmacy and engineering.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2021

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