Sep 10 - 16, 20

The Prime Minister, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has approved the Strategic trade Policy (STPF) for 2012-15 prepared by the Ministry of Commerce which envisages an export target of $95 billion for the coming three years. The in-principal approval was given after receiving an in- depth briefing on the policy frame work during the visit of the Prime minister to the Ministry of Commerce last week. The Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, made a detailed presentation, in a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, of the new policy with lot of new initiatives and offering many new incentives to the exporters.

The visit to the Ministry of Commerce was the first among a series of visits planned by the new Prime Minister to review the working and performance of various ministries. The Federal Cabinet is likely to approve the new trade policy in its next meetig likely to be held in the current week after which the Federal Commerce Minister, Makhdoom Amin Fahim would formally announce the policy.

The new framework of STPF would come up with a new idea of ,among others of projecting exports targets for three years instead of earlier practice of annual targets. The idea of introducing of 3years export target has been taken to follow the international practice specially in the European Union The proposed trade policy focuses on 12 areas to improve export from the country..

The government has decided to give more importance to export development initiatives during the years of policy period. For which the Commerce Ministry would seek Rs 60 billion from the Finance Ministry in three yearly instalments---Rs .16 billion for the year 2012-13, Rs. 20 billion for 2013-14 and Rs 24 billion for 2014-15 to meet its development expenditure. The government would announce several incentives for the exporters, development of domestic commerce in addition to setting up cold storages at ports to facilitate export of perishable items and opening up dozens of commercial sections in those countries where presently Pakistan has no office for export promotion.

The Prime minister the efforts of the Commerce Ministry in preparing the STPF document and said that to keep pace with ever increasing inter dependence of the world economies and flow of goods and services across the boarders periodical review and realignment of trade policy is imperative." All government policies should be tailored to benefit the people of Pakistan, he added.

He expressed concern over the trend over the trend during the past few years in which market share of Pakistan had shrunk." Lengthy and complicated procedures involved in operating business in Pakistan may be one of the reasons," he said asking the Commerce Ministry to analyze the reasons behind this decline and put up suitable recommendations for inclusion in the STPF for correcting this trend. In this connection the prime minister referred to the countries in the region which have established one window operation to facilitate the business men. If we are to compete in the world we have to augment our system efficiencies," he stressed.

The Prime Minister appreciated the proposal of opening retail outlets abroad for promotion of trade but emphasized that their locations were of critical importance. He urged that the trade policy should not only address big business but also cater for small business which would create more employment opportunities. He directed the Minister for Commerce to identify the niches which would give Pakistan a comparative advantage He observed that the people of Pakistan were creative, capable and endowed with entrepreneurial skills and if appropriate facilities are provided to them ,they can do wonders.

The Prime Minister directed the Commerce Ministry to explore new markets for Pakistani goods and suggested o pay more attention to the Central Republics and Africa. He also supported the idea of establishment of Export-Import Bank which would prove to be an important vehicle for increasing our trade with rest of the world. He urged the ministry to lay special emphasis on economic relations with Afghanistan which has the potential of becoming our major economic partner.