ISLAMABAD -  The government is likely to revise downwards the exports target of $35 billion in the revised Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) and give further incentives to the exporters.

“The ministry of commerce is actively working on the revised draft of Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF), which will be presented in the cabinet meeting for approval in next couple of weeks,” said an official of the ministry of commerce. The policy will be implemented for next ten months, by June 2018, he added.

Sharing details, he informed that ministry will ease the conditions required for exporters to get incentives from the government for boosting exports. Exporters have not submitted any claims for the subsidy due to flaws in the STPF. The government will take all stakeholders on board before finalising the revised draft of the STPF, he said.

He was of the view that current exports target of $35 billion is impossible to achieve by the end of June next year, as exports could not enhance by $15 billion in a single year. “The exports target will be reduced drastically,” he commented.

The PML-L government had announced the trade policy last year, setting an annual export target of $35b for 2018. Later, to enhance the tumbling exports of the country, the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had announced an incentives package worth Rs180 billion for five exports-oriented sectors including textile, clothing, sports, surgical, leather and carpet sectors.

Similarly, the government also announced zero-rating for the five exports-oriented sectors in last two budgets. However, the positive impacts of these incentives and packages on the country’s exports have not been seen yet. Pakistan’s exports had come down to four years lowest level of $20.45 billion during previous financial year 2016-17 as compared to $20.79 billion of the preceding year 2015-16. Similarly, the country’s imports were recorded at historic level of $53.02 billion during the FY17 as against $44.69 billion of the FY16, showing an increase of 18.67 percent. Therefore, trade deficit was recorded at historic level of $32.58 billion during last fiscal year. The current account deficit had widened by 148.5 percent to an all-time high of $12.09 billion for 2016-17 due to the massive increase in trade deficit.

Under Strategic Trade Policy 2015-18, the Ministry of Commerce notified five cash support schemes to improve product design, encourage innovation, facilitate branding and certification, upgrade technology for new machinery and plants, provide cash support for plant and machinery for agro-processing and give duty drawbacks on local taxes.