Islamabad: The government has yet to revise its Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) that failed to enhance tumbling exports of the country.

The government in June this year had decided to revise the STPF, which is failing to yield results. The three-year STPF was approved by the government last year. The framework aimed to expand exports to $35 billion by 2018, improve export competitiveness, shift the economy from factor-driven to innovation-driven and increase the share in the regional trade. However, exports had continued to fall.

The commerce ministry’s officials said that they had completed the consultation process with the export associations.

However, revised trade policy would be announced in next few weeks after getting approval from Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. “The ministry had received more than 850 recommendations from different stakeholders for boosting exports, which were shortlisted in an inter-ministerial meeting,” said an official of the ministry of commerce.

Major reasons identified for failure of the STPF were: the framework was properly structured; notifications of the five major schemes were issued late, cumbersome procedures for availing the schemes. Under the existing STPF, claims of only Rs3.3m were received in two years from exporters while a bulk amount of Rs4b was lapsed and subsequently surrendered to the Ministry of Finance.

Meanwhile, the exporters had recently demanded of the government to waive surcharges of Rs3.53/kWh to bring the tariff to Rs7/kWh from the current Rs10.5/kWh. They had also asked to reduce gas price to Rs600/mmbtu for the exports sector.

The textile associations requested to clear sales tax and customs refunds and extending the zero-rating facility to packing material and power looms.

The government wants to enhance exports to control the widening current account deficit (CAD) of the country, which surged by 122 percent to $5.013 billion in the first four months (July-October) of the current fiscal year as compared to $2.259 billion of a year ago.

The CAD is widening as higher imports growth offset the improvement in exports.

The current account deficit is likely to touch $18 billion by the end of the current fiscal year, which would further pressurize the forex reserves.

Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves had dropped by over $4.5 billion in the past one year due to fast drying up of foreign currency inflows.

Pakistan’s official foreign exchange reserves of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) are $13.5 billion.