The Senate Standing Committee on Commerce was told during its meeting that Pakistan’s exports have seen a decrease of 12.4 % during the last year while record high exports were witnessed in 2013-14 at $25.1 billion.
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Shibli Faraz at the Parliament House on Tuesday. All the relevant stakeholders were invited to discuss the decline in Pakistan’s exports during the past few years.
While briefing the committee on the reasons behind the decline in exports, the Ministry of Commerce said that many factors including global price development, weak investment, narrow export base, power shortages, security climate, poor infrastructure, appreciated currency and high tariffs have led to the decline according to academic research and data by the UN and IMF. It was also stated before the committee that the exporters term sales tax refunds, market barriers in the region, trade facilitations and poor R&D in raw material base as equally responsible factors.
The committee chairman, while giving his remarks, said that Pakistan’s export policy has always been security centric even though it should be trade centric.
The Ministry of Commerce also told the members that the IMF has projected a 3.6% increase in global trade growth and rice and wheat commodity prices are also expected to rise in the coming years. Brexit was termed a threat for Pakistan’s exports. It was stated that the GSP plus status being enjoyed by Pakistan currently is mainly due to British presence in the EU.
Representatives from Pakistan Business Council while giving their opinion on the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) and the decline in exports said that STPF does not adequately address the import-export alignment in the country and does not talk about domestic competitiveness. They also said the substantial change in trade is not possible without a national vision which is above the inter-ministerial warfare and federal and provincial friction.
The chairman and members of the committee stressed upon measures for job creation and export generation. It was also emphasised that drastic decrease in exports and drastic increase in imports have both affected domestic industry and have to be managed in comparison with each other to have a mix which is suitable.
The meeting was attended among others by Senator Rubina Khalid, Senator Karim Ahmed Khawaja, the commerce secretary and representatives of TDAP, FBR and Pakistan Business Council.