The export target for the current year (2003-04) may
be enhanced and set at $12 billion in view of the performance of the
outgoing year which crossed $11 billion against the target of $10.4.
Talking informally to the newsmen in the National
Assembly, Commerce Minister, Humayun Akhtar Khan, disclosed that the new
target will be announced in the new trade policy which is being
formulated by the Commerce Ministry and likely to be announced in third
week of July. He said the exports of the country touched the figure of
$11 billion, surpassing the set target of $10.4 billion for fiscal
2002-03. The minister claimed that it is unprecedented in the trade
history of the country that actual figure exceeded the set target,
showing the government's commitment for promotion of exports to achieve
the target, and strengthen the economy of the country.
Humayun said that this situation was the result of
good economic policies and indicated growth and sustainability. He
believed that the same trend will continue in the coming years to take
Pakistan's exports to optimum level. He gave credited of better
performance on economic front to continuity in policies. He said that
last year's trade policy had worked to the expectations but a number of
changes were on the cards for 2003-04. Exploring of new international
markets and entering in export of non-traditional items were two major
tools to increase exports, he added.
He said that the same pattern would be followed for
2003-04 but with some modifications, to get the desired results.
Pakistan would focus on China, Afghanistan, Turkey, EU, Far Eastern
countries, and Africa besides strengthening its position in traditional
markets. Promotion of export of non-traditional items and exploration of
new international markets have been two focal points of Islamabad's
policy to enhance exports. The policy has worked to the expectation of
the policy makers, the Commerce Minister said adding that he would fully
back these priorities. He was confident that it was the best way to make
a big leap forward to substantially add to the country's exports.
According to him, non-traditional items share in 2002-03 exports was
$500 million, which he believed was good enough.
On the issue of signing of Trade and Investment
Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the US, Humayun said it was in line with
Islamabad's policy to enter into various agreements to ensure access of
Pakistan's traders to important market. He said he was confident that
TIFA would transform into 'free trade agreement' (FTA). However, the
duration for transformation would depend on pace of progress as well as
implementation of intellectual property rights laws for which the
government is setting up PIPRO, he added.
The minister said the government would use
Afghanistan as a launching pad to enhance its exports to Central Asian
States. The minister was of the view that WTO regime would benefit
Pakistan in all terms. The government was taking various measures to fit
Pakistan in post 2005 scenario. These include substantial cut in duties,
better quality and standards for all major sectors, and abolition of
subsidies for agriculture sectors.
He was of the view that WTO regime would eliminate
quota system, which would pay benefit to Pakistan, as its traders would
have free access to many major markets. The Commerce Minister ruled out
any possibility of granting 'most favoured nation' (MNF) status to
India. He linked such concession to New Delhi with sustained political
ties saying "we are open for talks with India on all issues but
just one item of trade cannot be taken up in isolation". The
Minister said that Pakistan and Turkey have agreed, in principle, to
enhance bilateral trade for which setting up of Pak-Turk Investment
Company, on pattern of Pak-Oman Investment Company, was under