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PM seeks proposal for trade arbitration council

January 02, 2013

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. — File photo

ISLAMABAD, Jan 1: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has directed the Ministry of Commerce to put up a proposal for establishment of Trade Dispute Resolution Council.

The prime minister’s directive came following a meeting with a seven-member delegation of UK Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UKPCCI) on Tuesday.

An official announcement said the PM informed the delegation that Pakistan had made all necessary preparations to qualify for GSP Plus which will give boost to trade with EU countries.

The prime minister also welcomed a proposal for utilising the services of successful businessmen abroad who are of Pakistani origin for promoting exports from the country.

The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Commerce Abbas Khan Afridi and senior officials. Later, in a press conference at the National Press Club, the UKPCCI delegation said that Pakistan must establish trade arbitration mechanism in the country to facilitate exporters.

“We have asked the government for an arbitration council or a dispute resolution council so that the matters could be settled out of court in a cordial manner,” said Razi Khan, president UKPCCI.

The importers based abroad face serious problems whenever they develop a trade related dispute with Pakistani exporters and as a result the overall image of the country gets hit, the UKPCCI delegation said.

“Though Pakistan has a strong base and trade relations with Europe but there are individuals who do not abide with their commitments in terms of delivery time or quality of the product,” Khan said.

“The importer based in UK cannot approach the British court in this regard as its jurisdiction does not apply in Pakistan, whereas if a case is filed in a local court of the country, the proceedings take very long time to arrive at any decision. This way many importers are getting away from the Pakistani exporters and turning towards other countries,” he explained.

The members of UKPCCI delegation also said that it was eminent to note that Pakistan was losing its markets abroad to emerging competitors.

It was highlighted that the share of Pakistani exports among the global exports in 2011 was 0.16 percent, whereas around 13 years back it was 0.24 percent.

“Things have improved in numerical terms but the situation was not fair as the competitor were gaining space into what was once Pakistani export markets,” Khan said adding that the exports have gone up in number terms because the retail markets in Europe have grown in the past decade.

The UKPCCI members also said that one of the reasons was the non-compliance in the social sector by many local manufacturers and the exporters needed to take care of international obligations so that their products are bought by the super markets in UK and other European markets.

“We have already given these recommendations to the government including the measures for careful approach towards attaining the GSP-plus status from the EU,” Kamran Khan, General Secretary UKPCCI said.

Regarding the issue of granting GSP-Plus by the EU to Pakistan from January 2014, the UK based Pakistani businessmen said that the EU committee would be watching the compliances made by Pakistan over 27 international protocols, already ratified by the country.

In their recommendations to the government, the UKPCCI has suggested that a high level committee be formed to monitor the compliance issue so that no objection is raised from any side prior to the granting of GSP-Plus status.

The UKPCCI delegation has also suggested the government the modalities for the one window operation for overseas investors should be monitored by a senior officer and the complaints be placed at the website to that it is known to the concerned quarters. “The one window operation has never been a success in country and it is mainly because nobody knows the problems faced by the investors or the officials,” Mr Razi Khan said.

Responding to a question over lack of investments in the country, he said there has to be a roadmap and a master plan for the investors, while the politicians should contain themselves from blaming the predecessors all the time.