ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Commerce that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 1,900 containers, under the Afghan Transit Trade, were stuck at Karachi Port, which was hurting export orders severely.
The committee, in a meeting chaired by MNA Syed Naveed Qamar, recommended the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to take immediate measures for the resumption of Afghan Transit Trade.
The commerce ministry, however, said there was no ban on the Afghan Transit Trade, but the problem emerged due to the suspension of trade in the wake of Covid-19 and the matter would be resolved in the next two to three days.
The committee was informed that besides the Afghan Transit Trade, the ministry was also considering resuming bilateral trade with Afghanistan and kinnow stored in warehouses would be shipped when lockdown was lifted.
Briefing about the steps taken by the commerce ministry during the Covid-19 pandemic, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood pointed out that despite directives by the State Bank of Pakistan, banks were demanding guarantee from the business community. “Just like Bangladesh government, we are also considering launching concessionary loans at 2% mark-up,” he said. Commerce secretary told the committee that exports would be certified by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to make sure there was no shortage of supplies in the local market because without check and balance, there were chances of scarcity of commodities emerging in the country.
He added that though the textile ministry had expressed its willingness to export N-95 and other masks, the Ministry of Commerce banned the shipment of face masks without the issuance of no-objection certificates. Talking about export of wheat and sugar, the secretary informed the committee that both commodities fell within the purview of the food ministry and the commerce ministry did not have knowledge of wheat and sugar export.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2020.