Over Rs 4.6b revenue collected from border trade during last FY, NA told


Khurram Dastgir says there is zero load-shedding for industrial sector


The National Assembly resumed its session in Islamabad Thursday with Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq in the chair.

The National Assembly was informed that over Rs 4.6 billion revenue has been collected from border trade during the last financial year.

Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan told the House during Question Hour that the revenue has been increased due to steps taken by the government in cooperation with customs authorities to check smuggling and facilitate legal trade.

The minister pointed out that the government has acceded to TIR Convention 1975 which is soon to be operationalised. He hoped that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the TIR Convention will help expand the transit, bilateral and regional trade in future which will have a positive impact on Pakistan’s economy.

To a question, he said there is no evidence that textile units are shifting to other countries. He said that since October last year, there has been zero electricity load-shedding for the industrial sector. He said that since March this year uninterrupted gas has been supplied to the industrial sector which will help enhance industrial production and exports. He hoped that textile exports will increase as a result of the measures taken in the budget for the current financial year.

Answering a question, Khurram Dastgir told the House that the e-commerce policy will soon be announced in which measures will be taken to also increase exports of handicrafts. He said there is a major increase in the exports of handicrafts to the United States.

Responding to a question, the commerce minister said that both Pakistan and Afghanistan are members of South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) and under this arrangement Pakistan is maintaining a sensitive list of 938 items. Except for the items on the sensitive list, all other items are importable into Pakistan from SAFTA countries including Afghanistan at tariff rate between zero to five per cent. He said that under SAFTA, Afghanistan is also maintaining a sensitive list of 850 items.

Khurram Dastgir told the House that as a matter of policy, Pakistan has granted Most Favored Nation [MFN] status to all countries except Israel and India.

Answering a question, the minister said the federal government does not import whey powder and has no plans to do so. He pointed out that whey powder is not manufactured in Pakistan and is used in confectionary items. He said a total of 20,252 metric tonnes of whey powder was imported in 2015-16 from France, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine and 264 metric tonnes was imported during this period from Malaysia, India, UAE and Saudi Arabia by private sector. He said Pakistan is a wheat exporting country and increase has been registered in exports of the commodity.

The minister told the House that Pakistan enjoys close and cordial relations with Iran which are based on historical bonds of culture, traditions, religion and ethnicity. He said the exchange of high level visits between the two countries highlights the importance they give to each other in their inter-state relations. About the progress on the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline project, he said international sanctions have been lifted on Iran but in practice there are still obstacles, particularly banking issues that are affecting trade. He said Pakistan is engaged with Iran to increase trade between the two countries.