ISLAMABAD, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 26th july, 2016) : Minister for Commerce, Engineer Khurram Dastagir Khan on Tuesday informed the Senate that land ports were being set up at Torkham, Chaman and Wagha borders this year besides warehouses to enhance trade volume. Replying to various questions during Question Hour, the minister said that the volume of trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan at present was at $ 2.28 billion in 2014-15. Pakistan exported US$ 1.
962 million worth of goods while imports from Afghanistan were at the level of US$ 323 million in 2014-15, he added. To a supplementary question, he said that commercial transit trade between the two countries increased and stood at $ 2.25 billion during the last fiscal year despite reservations of shifting the trade towards Iran. He said that due to recent escalations, Torkham border was closed, as a result business and commercial activities remained suspended.
Hundreds of trucks and trailers loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables were stranded on both sides of the border due to the closure of the Pak-Afghan Highway, he added. The minister said necessary measures to enhance trade with Afghanistan were being taken. In this regard both Pakistan and Afghanistan has agreed in a meeting of Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) that the provisions of the APTTA-2010 shall be revised and amended appropriately with a view to further facilitating the transit trade.
Khurram said Pakistan-Afghanistan PTA Pakistan has proposed to initiate negotiations on Preferential Trade Agreement- (PTA) with Afghanistan. In this regard, a draft text of the proposed PTA has also been shared with Afghan. side through diplomatic channels. However, response from Afghan side was awaited, he added. He said Pak-Afghan Joint Business Council. Joint Business Council comprising leading businessmen from both sides has been established to increase business to business interaction.
To a question, the minister said Afghanistan has also announced to issued one year multiple visas to Pakistani businessmen on the request of Pakistan government. To another question, the minister said that the exports of textile clothing group have decreased by 7.34 per cent during the fiscal year 2015-16 (June-May) as compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. Within the textile group, the exports of textiles have decreased by 13.
2 per cent whereas exports of clothing have increased by 1.3 per cent, he added. In value terms, the minister said the exports of textile groups have declined by $ 908 million (from $ 12.37 billion in 2014-15 to $ 11.47 billion in 2015-16). The reasons for decline in export of textile products were mainly due to decline in production of cotton from 13.983 million bales in 2014-15 to 10.78 million bales in 2015-16, 10.3 per cent decrease in international prices of raw cotton from 70.
8?cents/pound in 2014-15 to 63.5 cents/pound in 2015-16, contraction of global demand and change in Chinese policy of holding strategic cotton stocks. However, the minister said the export of value added items including readymade garments has increased 4.84 per cent, footballs 3.61 per cent, surgical goods and medical instruments 4.24 per cent and jewelry 1712 per cent during the year 2015-16 (July-May). To a question asked by senator Ahmed Hassan, the minister said as a result of GSP plus Pakistan’s exports to EU increased from $6.
1 billion in 2013 to $7.54 billion in 2014. In the year 2015, Pakistan’s Exports to EU were registered $6.73billion. Trade analysis reveals that decrease in Pakistan’s export to EU in the year 2015 was due to weakening of Euro viz-a-viz, he added. It is important to note that Pakistan’s exports to European. Union continued to register an increase both in terms of quantity and Euro terms. Furthermore, during first three month of 2016, Pakistan’s Export to EU register a substantial increase of 8 per cent over the same period 2015, he said.
To a supplementary question, Khurram said GSP plus was not a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) rather it was a unilateral agreement and Pakistan would continue to take benefit from it till 2023. He said the incumbent government did not signed FTA with any country during the last three years and efforts were made to protect the interest of the business community. To a question, the minister said the export of Basmati rice witnessed increase during the last four years.
However, decline in prices of commodities at international market affects its export, he added. He said the commerce ministry arranged world food exhibitions to encourage rice exporters. Exhibition was also organized in Moscow to promote Pakistani rice, he added. He said Indonesia would purchase 100,000 tons rice for four year while such agreement was also inked with Philippine. The minister said a bill would be tabled in the House soon to ensure import of seeds of various crops including rice legally.
He said a delegation of Rice Export Association visited Iran to discuss mechanism for rice export. However, due to issues in banking system with Iran, there were certain problems which were being addressed in order to export rice to Iran, he added. To a question, the minister said that developments of minerals and natural resources sector has been devolved to the provinces after the passage of 18th constitutional amendment.