ECC to okay 5-year trade framework

Had deferred approval due to observations made by SBP and FBR


Our Correspondent July 14, 2021
Import of all goods is allowed from across the world unless specified as banned, prohibited or restricted under the Import Poli-cy order (IPO), 2020. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) is likely to approve the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2020-25.

Earlier, the economic decision-making body had deferred the matter in its meeting held on March 31 due to the observations made by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Now, the commerce ministry has requested the ECC to take up the matter again in its meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

The Ministry of Commerce had submitted a summary on the draft STPF 2020-25 to the ECC of the cabinet for its consideration, after seeking approval of the prime minister.

Subsequently, the ECC, in its meeting held on March 31, 2021, deferred consideration of the summary and directed the commerce ministry to hold further consultations with the relevant stakeholders.

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However, the cabinet body approved the establishment of National Export Development Board (NEDB), which had been envisaged under the draft STPF. NEDB will be notified in due course of time.

In compliance with ECC’s decision, observations of the SBP and FBR were sought as both the stakeholders had indicated their concern during the said ECC meeting.

Due consideration was given to the observations of the central bank and FBR and the same were addressed and accordingly incorporated into the draft STPF 2020-25. The revised draft was also shared with both the entities.

Later, the commerce secretary, in a letter on June 15, 2021, requested the Cabinet Division secretary to include the revised draft of STPF 2020-25 in the forthcoming meeting of the ECC.

However, the Cabinet Division vide its letter on June 18, 2021 stated that a fresh summary may be furnished for ECC’s consideration.

The commerce ministry is now seeking approval of the revised draft of STPF 2020-25.

Imports from Kenya

The Ministry of Commerce is also seeking approval of the economic decision-making body for eliminating the attestation fee of documents for goods imported into Pakistan from Kenya.

Import of all goods is allowed from across the world unless specified as banned, prohibited or restricted under the Import Policy order (IPO), 2020.

In terms of paragraph-6 (3) of the IPO 2020 in case of goods imported into Pakistan from Kenya, a fee at the rate of $50 or 0.5% of the invoice value of goods, whichever is higher, is charged by Pakistan’s High Commission, Nairobi, Kenya for the attestation certificate and invoice related to such goods.

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In the IPO or any other law for the time being in force, there is no such attestation requirement for other countries.

The government of Kenya in bilateral engagements and through diplomatic channels has requested the government of Pakistan on several occasions to scrap the aforesaid condition of attestation of export document fee for products.

Likewise, the trading communities of both countries have been seeking its removal for a long time on the grounds that the said non-tariff measure increases their cost of business and transaction time.

On the regional trade front, Kenya is a key player in multiple politico-economic blocs such as the East African Community (EAC), Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Therefore, improvement in bilateral relations will not only improve Pakistan’s market access, it will also be an entry point for export of Pakistani products to other countries of the region, increasing market share in the growing African market in line with the Ministry of Commerce’s ‘Look Africa Policy’.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2021.

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