ISLAMABAD     -    Senate Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile has recommended to conducting a thorough study as to what are Pakistan’s requirements from the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), which countries fulfil our requirements best and then sign FTAs with those countries.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi at the Parliament House and was attended by Senators Aurangzeb Khan, Nauman Wazir Khattak and officials from the ministry.

Senators were given briefing on order worth $1 Billion received from China for import of sugar, yarn and rice.

Members of the Committee were of the view that whenever those in position of making policy decisions are in consultations with foreign delegations on the matters of exports and imports all commitments should be based on informed opinions and they should not give statements off the cuff and should give consideration to consulting the stakeholders first. The Committee was told that there is no hiccup in export office but some problems are being faced in yarn export.

The Committee was also given a briefing on the draft e-commerce policy of Pakistan which is aimed at making payment settlements for small entrepreneurs of the country.

The meeting was told that freelancers working in different parts of the country and providing services to clients globally are facing issues in receiving their payments against their work because there is no registered e-commerce mechanism.

This policy framework will serve the purpose and a close coordination with Pakistan Post will take it beyond just payments but will process delivery of orders as well.

The Committee while holding a briefing on trade with Afghanistan was told that Pakistan’s bilateral trade with Afghanistan in 2013-14 was of $2119.22 million but today it has reduced to $1879.68 million.

Country’s exports in 2013-14 was $1760.17 million and in 2018-19 it is $1322 million with imports increasing to $557.68 million in 2018-19 from $359.05 million in 2013-14.

The meeting was told that in sugar, sugar confectionaries, exports to Afghanistan have increased but in cement, rice, animal vegetable fats, citrus fruit, potatoes, rods, exports have declined.

The Committee noted that documentation of data is important for this reason because it shows the changing patterns of the world which is important in today’s competitive market to see what improvements and changes are needed in your products to hold on to a market.

Regarding wire saw cutting project in Buner by TDAP with PASDEC, the Committee was told that an amount of 5 crores was given to PASDEC for the project and the remaining 6 crore 66 lacs was made conditional with proper detail of how the previous money was utilised.

However, the officials from PASDEC could not give a satisfactory response as to what has been the efficiency of the work if conducted any.

The Committee sought details of PC-1,2,3,4 and all the requisite information on the said project along with audit of the funds by the next meeting.