RAWALPINDI - The Ministry of Commerce has invited suggestions from the stakeholders on draft National Tariff Policy being formulated for five years, 2018-23.

Member National Tariff Commission, Miss Robina said, all stakeholders are being taken on board and sector wise consultation would also be started soon.

A schedule in this regard would be announced within a month and also uploaded on the Ministry's website, she added.

She said, the draft National Tariff Policy has been uploaded on the ministry's website and invited the stakeholders to give their suggestions in this regard. This is first draft of the policy and not final, she added.

A consultative seminar on draft National Tariff Policy was organized here the other day by Ministry of Commerce to take input by the stakeholders including business community, industrialists, representatives of chamber of commerce and industry, gems and jewelry and others.

Director General, Trade Policy, Ministry of Commerce Muhammad Ashraf, Secretary, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan Inam Ullah Khan, Secretary Ministry of Commerce, Muhammad Younas Dagha, Member National Tariff Commission, Tippu Sultan and Member National Tariff Commission, Madam Robina were present on the occasion.

A large number of businessmen, industrialists, representatives of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, gems and Jewelry Associations and other stakeholders attended the seminar.

Muhammad Ashraf made a presentation on the draft National Tariff Policy and highlighted salient features of the policy.

He said, during last five years, the economic indicators have consistently improved, GDP growth has increased from 3.65 percent in 2012-13 to 5.28 percent in financial year 2017, workers' remittances have grown by 39 percent and revenues have increased by 66 percent.

He said, effectively employed, the tariffs play an important role in allocation of resources, protection of the domestic industry against foreign competition, improving competitiveness of the domestic industry, generating employment opportunities, attracting and protecting investment, improving balance of payments, serving as a source of revenue and income distribution by levying higher import duties on luxury goods and lowering tariffs on raw materials and intermediate goods.

On the other hand, employed excessively, the tariffs erode competitiveness of industry by increasing cost of inputs and cause de-industrialization by making industrial investment less viable due to eroded competitiveness.

In Pakistan, the import tariffs are traditionally employed as a revenue generation tool rather than instrument of trade policy as import tariffs are easy to levy and administer than direct taxes.

To facilitate the manufacturers-cum-exporters, a number of schemes are in place to waive/reimburse the import duty on their inputs; however, the benefits of such schemes are availed only by very few exporters. Many exporters especially SMEs often fail to avail the benefits of such exemption schemes or duty drawbacks.

He also spoke on Pakistan's tariff regime and current duty slabs, issues in tariff regime, regional trends, tariff policy and its objectives. The DG said, the tariff policy aims to achieve the objectives including to make the tariff structure a true reflection of trade policy priorities, to improve competitiveness of manufacturing especially the export sector through duty free access to imported raw materials and intermediate goods, to rationalize the tariff structure for enhancing the efficiency of the existing domestic activities, especially in the manufacturing sector and for improving the resource allocation.

Similarly, to reduce the relative 'disincentive' for the exporting activities, to improve the growth potential of the country and increase employment opportunities by attracting investment into efficient industries and reduce the burden of protection on the end users, to encourage value addition through the principle of cascading of tariffs and to remove anomalies in the tariff structure which is causing distortions between sectors and in the value chain of the same sectors.

He said, the tariff policy will be employed as an instrument of trade policy rather than revenue. The tariff structure will be simplified by reducing exemptions and concessions.

The domestic industry will be provided 'strategic protection' against the foreign competition during the infancy phase keeping in view the cost of doing business. The protection will be time-bound and phased out so as to make the industry globally competitive. The policy recommendations will be implemented for a period of five years.

The duty on more than 450 tariff lines, comprising raw materials, intermediate goods and machinery for export oriented industries, will be reduced. The tariff slabs will be re-fixed.

The participants appreciated the seminar and said this was a very useful session and a good initiative taken by the Ministry of Commerce.