Pak-Afghan Transit Trade Agreement to benefit Pakistan: Amin Fahim

Minister for Commerce, Makhdoom Amin Fahim said on Saturday that seventeen routes through Afghanistan have been identified with sound trucks tracking system for exports of Pakistani goods which would benefit Pakistan’s economy and its exports.

This was stated by Makhdoom Amin Fahim in his maiden press conference after taking oath in the new Federal Cabinet here.

The minister highlighted the performance of his ministry and its allied departments.

He informed the media that highest ever exports were achieved in 2009-10. He said that under the three years trade policy 6 per cent target was achieved in the first year while, in the second year the Ministry of Commerce achieved 9 per cent exports against the target of 8.6 percent and this year we have crossed the 24 percent against the export target of 10 percent.

Fahim expressed the hope that Pakistan would cross US $ 22 billion during the current financial year.

He said that European Union (EU) has announced unilateral tariff concessions on the 75 items for Pakistan and decided that it would put up the case before World Trade Organization (WTO) for approval.

The Minister hoped that this would help Pakistan to penetrate European markets for the Pakistani products for the benefit of the country.

He added that negotiations with China is also in progress for tariff line on 284 items for Pakistani goods.

The minister said that Ministry of Commerce has taken a number of steps for the market access to Pakistani products including mangoes.

The minister said that negotiations with USA are also in progress to include flood-affected areas in the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ZOZs) to benefit them.

He informed that Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design (PIFD) is being upgraded to university level with the establishment of six new fashion and design colleges at Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan Faisalabad and Hala soon.

He was flanked by Secretary Commerce Zafar Mehmood and the heads of allied departments of the Ministry of Commerce.

Makhdoom Amin Fahim also lauded the performance of the officers and staff of the Ministry of Commerce.

Minister for Commerce Makhdoom Amin Fahim said that more than 15 export oriented projects are being launched by Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).

He said that market diversification has been achieved by organizing, participating in more than 65 Trade Exhibitions worldwide.

He said that under Directorate General Trade Organization (DGTO), one FPCCI, 32 Chambers and 79 Associations have been registered since 2008.

The Minister added that numerous disputes related to election process, membership, non-adherence to their own rules by chambers were disposed off to ensure that the democratic process and true representative character of Trade Bodies have been maintained.

Regarding the performance of Pakistan Institute of Trade and Development (PITAD), he said that three batches of officers of C & T Group have been trained and trade related technical Assistance by European Community, US Department of Commerce and World Bank are being coordinated.

He said that in the research on Trade related issues, such as FTAs, PTAs and impact of war on terror and floods on exports are being accessed.

The Minister for Commerce further said that with the approval of the Prime Minister, Federal Export Promotion Board – (Political -Support for coordinated efforts of all ministries and organizations.) has been approved.

He said that accountability and performance of Trade Officers posted abroad are being evaluated and a regional conference will also be organized in this regard.

“The trade officers with poor performance would be called back and be replaced with competent officers for the promotion of exports in the country”, he added.

He assured that pending claims of exporters would be cleared and in this regard finance ministry would also be approached.

Makhdoom Amin Fahim said that the export of mangoes to USA, European Union, Japan and Australia would be encouraged for the benefit of the country.

He also informed the media that Expo Center Lahore has been completed.

Regarding the performance of other sister institutions, the Minister said that State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan (SLIC)’s first year gross Premium in 2010 was amounted to Rs. 9.4 billion with 35 per cent increase over the last year.

He added that the gross total premium in 2010: was recorded at Rs. 30.5 billion with 27 per cent increase over the last year.

The Minister said that SLIC has been awarded “AAA” rating by rating agencies for its excellent performance.

Highlighting the performance of National Insurance Company Limited (NICL), the Minister said that its Gross Premium in 2010 stood at Rs.6.3 billion in 2010 with 4 per cent increase over the last year.

He added that NICL has earned Rs. 3.6 billion gross profit while it has paid a tax of Rs.1.1 billion to the government thus becoming one of the largest corporate tax payer of the country. It has also earned a “AA+” rating.

Regarding the performance of Pakistan Reinsurance Company Limited (PRCL), he said that its Gross Premium in 2010 stood at Rs. 6.5 billion with 12 per cent increase over the last year.

He added that the net Premium in 2010 was Rs. 2.95 billion with 36 percent increase over the last year while its paid up capital increased from Rs. 540 million to Rs. 3.0 billion.

Highlighting the performance of Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), Makhdoom Amin Fahim said that the TCP successfully handled 2 million metric tons of commodities.

The TCP was assigned to import 1.2 million metric tons of sugar and 800,000 metric tons of Urea. 1.1 million Metric Tons of Sugar and all urea consignments have arrived.

He added that government wanted to further bring improvement in the performance of TCP.

He further said that important role played by the TCP to bring price stability for sugar through market intervention for the first time on the directive of the ECC of the Cabinet.

He said that TCP Board being reconstituted by inducting Private Sector.

Regarding the performance of Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (PHDEC), he said Export growth remained from US$ 228 million in 2008-09 to US $ 365 million in 2009-10 in horticulture sector.

He added that the organization has given certification of 24 orchards factories.

Regarding the performance of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), the highest ever exports achieved in 2009-10.

The exports are expected to go beyond 22 billion US dollars in 2010-11.

He added that more than 15 export oriented projects being launched by TDAP besides market diversification achieved by organizing/participating in more than 65 Trade Exhibitions worldwide.