ISLAMABAD - The Federal Cabinet, in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Monday, approved the Trade Policy 2009-12, projecting the countrys export target to $19 billion while maintaining the imports at $28 billion for 2009-10. Presenting a 3-year Trade Policy 2009-12 Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim on the state-run media said that during the three-year period Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) and exports growth would be projected by 6 per cent in 2009-10, 10 per cent in 2010-11 and 13 per cent in 2011-12. Makhdoom said taking a long-term view of Pakistans export performance over the last ten years, Pakistans share in the global market, according to WTO data, had declined by more than one third to 0.13 per cent in 2009 from 0.21 per cent in 1999. The trade minister further stated that due to energy crises, poor law and order situation, unprecedented economic downturn especially in major markets like the US and European Union, Pakistani exports declined to $17.8 billion in 2008-09 as compared with $19.1 billion in 2007-08. Imports also witnessed a decline of 13 per cent and stood at $34.9 billion during the last fiscal year against $40.9 billion in 2007-08, he said. Similarly, the textile exports also dropped from $10.6 million to $9.6 million in 2008-09. While the share of non-textile manufactured in total exports went down from $5.83 million in 2007-08 to $3.12 million in 2008-09. In order to address strategic objective of pursuing greater market access through extensive trade diplomacy, the government aims to engage with the larger trading partners like the US and the EU for greater market access and utilize the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) for providing zero duty facility for exports to the US. According to the policy it is expected that by 2012, the competitiveness ranking of Pakistan will improve from 101 to 75; the share of engineering exports would increase from 1.5 per cent to 5 per cent; value addition of cotton to increase from $1,000 to $1,500 per bale; and regional trade to expand from 17 per cent to 25 per cent. In the new trade policy it has been decided to create a Fund to hedge fund markup rate hikes and the Commerce Ministry would work with the Ministry of Finance and State Bank of Pakistan towards that end. Presently, the businesses need short to medium-term certainty in the interest rate for investment. Currently, there is no policy instrument provided by the government or private sector to provide finance at fixed interest rates for a short to medium term. It has been decided that Ministry of Water and Power would work with the Electricity Distribution Companies to enter into agreements with clusters of industries whereby electricity will be supplied at mutually agreed times. The agreements would have punitive and compensation clauses. The government has also introduced insurance schemes for the visiting buyers in order to restore their confidence and this scheme would be funded from Export Investment Support Fund and managed by National Insurance Corporation. A scheme might be launched to compensate inland freight cost to exporters of cement, light engineering, leather garments, furniture, soda ash, hydrogen peroxide, sanitary wares including tiles, finished marble/ granite/ onyx products. A Fund dedicated to support these activities named Technology, Skill and Management Up-gradation Fund of Rs 3 billion is being established. The Strategic Trade Policy Framework would leverage the Textile Policy through its diverse measures and policies directly and indirectly. For diversification of exports mix, customs duty may be zero rated on import of Man-Made Fibers other than Polyester Staple Fiber. Customs duty on import of sizing chemicals may be withdrawn. A Brand Development Programme will also be launched to encourage the establishment of domestic and international brands. The government would also promote more effective holding of local and participation and foreign exhibitions. The government also decided that surgical instruments, sports goods & cutlery sector would be granted 25 per cent support on brand development activities. In order to solve the problem of shortage of well-trained skilled manpower, a center of excellence for training, designing, research & development needs of surgical instrument sector will be established at Sialkot. For the uplift of engineering sector which showed 26 per cent growth last year, a special fund worth Rs 2.5b for product development and marketing for light engineering sector is on the cards. Likewise, 25 per cent grant of freight subsidy on live seafood products export has also been decided in the new trade policy. The policy also envisages that until Halal Certification Board is set up, the government would support the cost of certification by 50 per cent. In the coming year, the Ministry would develop a comprehensive policy for promotion of Halal products. Safety Standards Certification by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) increases the level of acceptability of manufactured products particularly domestic electrical appliances in international markets. It has been decided that 50 per cent cost of UL (Underwriters Laboratories) certification would be borne by the government. The government has also decided to make the exports completely zero-rated. Interim relief for tents & canvas, electric machinery, carpets, rugs and mats, sports goods, footwear, surgical/ medical/ veterinary/ beauty care instruments, cutlery, onyx products, electric fans, furniture, auto parts, handicrafts, jewelry and pharmaceuticals has also been made a salient feature of the policy. Oil and gas and petroleum sector companies are allowed import of secondhand plant and machinery equipment required for their project in Pakistan subject to pre-shipment certification to the effect that such plant, machinery and equipment are in good working condition and are not older than 10 years. In order to encourage use of computers by low-income groups, import of old and used computer components will be allowed. Second-hand Cathode Ray Tubes monitors are being imported and being used as televisions, thereby posing a threat to local television industry; excessive import of worlds first e-waste is also a threat to the environment. It is therefore been decided to disallow the import of Cathode Ray Tubes monitors unless imported along with used computers. To encourage local manufacturing, import of vaccines would be restricted only from World Health Organization approved plants. At present, only such used ambulances that are donated by reputable organizations are allowed for imports by charitable organization. It has been decided that import of used ambulances that fulfill certifiable standards and have minimum 10 years of useful life would be allowed when donated by any organization or individual to charitable or nonprofit organization, trusts or hospitals. To facilitate disabled persons to actively participate in economic activities, the facility to import duty free customized cars, not above 1350cc of engine capacity is being allowed. To facilitate disabled persons further, it has been decided to allow the import of one used duty free motorized wheel chair to actual users. It has been decided that the vehicle imported by an overseas Pakistani, under Transfer of Residence rules, may be released to legal heir in case of his or her death.