ISLAMABAD - No Muslim country has signed a Free or Preferential Trade Agreement with Pakistan during the last five years, the National Assembly heard on Monday.
Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir said there had been no new trade agreements with an Islamic country since deals were struck with Malaysia and Indonesia in 2007.
Pakistan had been facing trade deficit with Indonesia even before signing the PTA and it still persists. Heavy palm oil import was the major reason for the deficit.
In 2013-14, Pakistan imported 2.2 million tons of palm oil amounting to $1.9 billion. Of the total import of palm oil, 52 percent was imported from Indonesia.
The minister said palm oil is raw material for cooking oil and other consumer items. Availability of palm oil at cheaper rates has resulted in lower cost of production and benefited consumers.
To another question, the minister said that no trade agreement has been signed between Pakistan and Iran during last three years. However, Pakistan signed the PTA with Iran in March 2004 and is operational since September 2006.
In order to reduce trade deficit and enhance Pakistan’s exports to Indonesia, the Ministry of Commerce has regularly been conducting trade promotional activities like exhibitions, trade fairs and business delegations.
Presently, the ministry is scheduling Pak-Indonesia official meeting to review the trade agreement.
Pakistan signed FTA with China in November 2006, which became operational from July 2007. The Agreement on Trade in Services was signed on February 21, 2009 and it became operational from October 10, 2010
At present both the countries are negotiating for the second phase of FTA for trade in goods and the agreement for trade in services is also under review.
But the min - ister informed the house Pakistan’s exports to European Union have increased from $6.21 billion in 2013 to $7.54 billion in 2014 after getting the GSP Plus status.
While no Muslim country struck the trade agreement with Pakistan in the last five years, Pakistan’s exports to EU increased more rapidly in 2014 than many of its regional competitors including Bangladesh, India and Vietnam.
Giving details about the Pak-Malaysia trade agreement signed on November 8, 2007 and became effective in January 2008, the minister said a joint review committee had been established to review the implementation and operation of this agreement.
Indonesia and Pakistan agreed to sign a PTA in February 3, 2012 that is operational since September 1, 2013. The scope of the agreement will cover goods, services and investment, the minister informed.