Economic reforms to help gain global market access

Prime Minister Imran Khan expected to announce these reforms very soon

Ministry of Commerce Secretary Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera. PHOTO: Twitter

New economic reforms are being planned in order to synchronise national trade, industry and exports with international standards for enhanced global market access to Pakistani exportable items, said Ministry of Commerce Secretary Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera.

While addressing a seminar on China Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA-II) at the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) on Saturday, Sukhera said modalities of new economic reforms are being considered, which include ease of doing business, regulatory reforms and enhanced competitiveness of our exports.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan is himself expected to announce these reforms very soon,” the secretary revealed.

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He said that the data of 20 important and competitive cities of Pakistan is being compiled. “It will reflect ease of doing business, global competitive index and reduction or clubbing existing taxes, duties and levies,” he said.

Talking about the CPFTA-II, Sukhera said it will ensure enhanced market access to Pakistani products by up to 90%, whereas in return we will provide only 67% market access to Chinese importers.

He said that proper safeguard has also been provided to domestic and indigenous industries under this FTA. “For its second phase, 11 rounds of negotiation were held during 2012-19,” he mentioned, adding that as there were no proper safeguards for domestic industry in the first FTA, the commerce ministry concentrated on providing maximum protection to local industry in the second agreement.

The secretary further said that with the onset of the first FTA, Pakistan’s exports to China jumped from only $500 million to $2.5 billion. However, during the uncovered period, it again reduced to $1.5 billion due to the absence of proper safeguards.

Chinese imports in these specific lines are around $1.75 trillion, over which Pakistan has successfully negotiated zero duty, whereas earlier China was charging duties on these tariff lines. “However, now Pakistan will export these products to China duty free,” he added. The Ministry of Commerce official claimed that our exports could jump manifold to China, only if we could avail 10% of this total Chinese imports. He said 105 lines are directly related to textile or apparel.

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“Earlier 14% to 16% duty was imposed on these lines, but now Pakistan could make these exports duty free to China,” he said and informed that Turkey and India were also enjoying GSP status from America. Regarding the FTA with Indonesia, he said maximum concessions for Pakistani exports have been successfully negotiated. “We have inked an MoU to export Kinnow and rice to Indonesia,” he remarked, adding that in 2014-15, our exports to Indonesia were only $100 million, which has now jumped to $300 million.

Similarly, Pakistan has negotiated duty free export of 20 special tariff lines, which were earlier taxed with up to 25% duty.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2019.

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