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Three-year trade policy approved

Three-year trade policy approved

ISLAMABAD: After a delay of eight months, the government has approved the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2015-18 with an ambitious export target of $35 billion by 2018.

“Yes, the prime minister’s office has approved the STPF 2015-18 and hopefully it will be announced on Monday,” Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan told Dawn on Saturday.

The special committee constituted by the prime minister had approved the trade policy on August 29, 2015 and it was to be implemented from July 1, 2015 as the STPF 2012-15 expired on June 30, 2015.

Dastgir regretted the delay but said his ministry would start work on its implementation in a week’s time. “I think the policy will be ready for implementation from April 1,” he added.

The minister said the cash incentives for exporters will be disbursed through the State Bank of Pakistan in the last three months of this fiscal year.

He blamed the global recession for declining exports. “We will help exporters to reduce the cost of doing business by lowering the cost of energy and zero-rating,” the minister said.

The government would provide Rs20bn for the implementation of the policy for the next three years. For this fiscal year, Rs6bn has already been earmarked.

The policy aims for product sophistication and diversification, market access, insti­tutional development and strengthening and trade facilitation. The Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan will be placed under the ambit of the commerce ministry.

The focus market for basmati rice will be Iran and Saudi Arabia. The exports of meat, vegetables and fruits mainly kinno, mango, potato and onion to South East Asia and Middle East markets would be supported.

The government will provide freight subsidy on export of cement to Africa. Other potential markets for cement are Sri Lanka, India and Afghanistan. The duty structure will be revised on raw material including coal and shredded tyres.

Under the policy, the government will provide warehousing support, branding support, certification support, border market support as well as infrastructure development support to the identified sectors.

For Afghanistan exports of wheat, rice, meat and cement will be promoted. The strategy includes infrastructure development, banking and rail link, zero-rating on export of plastics. Products including rice, yarn, fabrics and garments will be supported to promote exports to China.

Under the import regime, government has allowed imports of restricted products, while putting a ceiling on certain facilities.

Imports of three-wheelers for disabled persons will also be allowed. It has been also proposed to put the condition of Euro-II compliance for import of two- or three-wheelers. It has been also proposed allowing the imports of five-year old specialised vehicles subject to pre-inspection in the exporting country.

Under the policy, ban will be lifted on import of poultry from South Korea, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Tur­key, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Azer­baijan, Ukraine, Iraq, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Austria and Bosnia, subject to certification from respective veterinary authority of the exporting country.

In the telecom sector, it has been proposed to ban import of digital enhanced cordless phones, while terminal equipment such as mobile handset and tablets import may not be allowed without Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s approval.

Imports of mercury and its compounds have been restricted to industrial consumers having valid environmental approval. In the import of ozone depleting substances, the Ministry of Climate Change will determine the quota.

Import of 3D printers will be subject to an NOC from the Ministry of Interior. For aerial vehicles and night-vision goggles an NOC will be mandatory from Ministry of Defence.

No conditions will be linked to the import of plastic scrap for the units importing for the first time. Pyrolysis plants were also allowed to import used tyres. At present the facility is only available to industrial consumers.

Imports of raw materials in the restricted list may also be allowed by manufacturer-cum-exporters under the DTRE scheme, Temporary Impor­tation Scheme, Bonded Ware­houses, Common Bon­ded Warehouses and Export oriented schemes, which will be subject to conditions.

It is also proposed to allow import of pesticides inter-alia subject to pre-ship­­ment ins­pec­­tion (PSI) certification.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2016

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