ISLAMABAD-Considering trade policy an important aspect in the promotion of trade activities at local and global level, the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce has sought a detailed briefing from the ministry of commerce on Trade Policy besides the E-Commerce policy.

The Committee is going to meet on 16th October, 2020 at the Parliament House. Chairman of the Committee Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi observed that the committee is focused on formulating recommendations to promote trade and commerce local, regional and globally.

The government has delayed the announcement of much-delayed Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF), which was supposed to be unveiled in 2018 when previous policy had expired. The incumbent government wanted to increase the country’s exports in next five years by giving incentives to exporters. Under the proposed STPF, the government has estimated to enhance the exports to $26 billion in next fiscal year from estimated $23 billion of the ongoing fiscal year. It has been planned that exports would be further increased to $31 billion in 2021-22, $35 billion in 2022-23, $40 billion in 2023-24 and $46 billion in 2024-25.

The Committee, Senator Afridi said, has also decided to seek briefing on the application to the European Commission by India for registration of GI tag of Basmati Rice and the steps taken by the government of Pakistan in this regard. Pakistan has already decided to give a befitting reply to India’s claim of Geographical Indication (GI) tag to Basmati Rice in the European Union (EU) and it will file its opposition in the EU. India has recently applied for an exclusive GI tag to Basmati rice in the EU. As per the Indian application, basmati is special long grain aromatic rice grown and produced in a particular geographical region of the Indian sub-continent. In India, this region is a part of northern India, below the foothills of the Himalayas forming part of the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP). The special characteristics of basmati are its long slender kernels with a high length to breadth ratio, an exquisite aroma, sweet taste, soft texture, delicate curvature, intermediate amylase content, high integrity of grain on cooking, and linear kernel elongation with least breadth-wise swelling on cooking. Further, India has claimed that basmati is grown and produced in all districts of the states of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, as well as in specific districts of western Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. India has also referred other reports to show that the basmati rice is of Indian origin without mentioning that the same is produced in Pakistan.

Other items on the agenda pertain to the import of Iranian apples and the import of onions and tomatoes from neighbouring countries. Senator Mirza Afridi said that the committee is making sincere efforts to protect the local farmers and producers. “An effective mechanism would be evolved to boost economy and promote healthy trade environment”, Mirza Afridi hoped.