ISLAMABAD, July 17: The government on Monday unveiled its trade policy for 2006-07, which seeks to further liberalise foreign trade and projects an export target of $18.6 billion and import bill of $28 billion, leaving a yawning deficit of $9.4 billion.

The trade policy, announced by Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan, offers incentives for diversification of exports and increased market access. It promises to continue last year’s rapid export growth strategy.

The major initiative is to focus on exports growth in regional Muslim countries, particularly Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics, and establishing meat and poultry export zones in six cities to increase market share in Halal products. The freight subsidy has been extended with modification, while a 50 per cent subsidy will be given on export certifications.

The import of second-hand machinery and equipment for construction, mining, natural resources and security purposes has been allowed.

The Export Promotion Bureau is being replaced with a ‘Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (Tdap)’ which will be an autonomous body equipped with resources to effectively exploit opportunities for increasing exports. The first phase of transition from EPB to Tdap will be completed in six to 12 months.

Carpet cities will be set up in Lahore and Karachi to institutionalise and increase production, improve quality, design and colours of carpets, organise marketing and provide common facilities.

A modern warehouse city will be established in Karachi by a corporate entity with the public-private partnership.

The import bill target has been pushed up by $6.1 billion from the last year’s target of $21.79 billion, while the export target has been increased by $1.6 billion from $17 billion, meaning that exports are estimated to grow by 13 per cent over the actual achievement of $16.6 billion in the last fiscal.

The focus will also be on enhancing identified sectors’ exports to over $1 billion each within three years. The identified sectors include leather products, engineering goods, chemical and pharmaceutical products, towel and denim and services sector.

In order to facilitate and promote exports to Afghanistan, Iran and CARs, it has been decided to establish expo centres and warehouses at Peshawar and Quetta, and an export centre in Islamabad.

A ‘Dazzle Park’ will be set up to provide facilities for cutting and polishing precious and semi-precious stones and manufacturing jewellery.

‘Meat Export Zones’ will be established in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta for animal fattening, meat processing, quality certification and packaging to increase export of the commodity.

Similarly, ‘Poultry Export Zones’ will be set up in Karachi, Faisalabad and Hazara for farms, feed mills and meat processing and packaging units.

Import of call centres with parts, spares and components will be allowed in second-hand/used condition under the relocation scheme. The import will be allowed only for own use and not for sale.

The new policy also allows import of used medical equipment and mobile clinics to medical institutions.

Due to security concerns, particularly in Sindh, the import of second-hand security equipment, including X-Ray machines for screening and scanning, surveillance cameras and close circuit TV cameras, will be liberalised so that these may be available at reasonable prices for installation at places of worship, parks and recreational areas.

The policy also allows municipal bodies, corporations and cantonment boards to import used waste disposal trucks and second-hand fire-fighting vehicles, subject to condition that these should not be older than 15 years.

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