ISLAMABAD: While hinting about the negative impact on bilateral trade with China because of Coronavirus, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood has said that the government would finalise the tariff policy of about 26 sectors next month after bringing a major shift in policy formulation mechanism.

“The situation is fluid at the moment,” Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said when asked about the negative impact of Coronavirus in China and added that the consignments were reaching on time but documents were getting delayed due to which the clearance of goods got stuck up at ports. The demurrage charges are increasing burden, he added. However, he said that the exports target of this month would not be affected negatively because Pakistan’s imports were largely relying upon China. He said that Pakistan’s exports in value terms went up by 3 percent when the exports of India and other comparable countries were showing negative growth.

Talking to a select group of reporters here at the Ministry of Commerce on Monday evening, the Adviser to PM on Commerce said the new tariff policy formulation would promote industrialization. “Though it will take some time, we are heading for a paradigm shift by handing over tariff policy into the domain of Ministry of Commerce. We will have to wait for three budgets to ensure whole tariff policy,” he said and added that there was a need to strike balance as in the last 50 years, the objective was revenue collection but now industrial growth has become the center of policy by ignoring revenue collection in totality. Warning that both extremes would be wrong policies, Dawood advised “a balanced approach.”

He said that Ali Habib has drafted the tariff policy but he had no role in finalizing the auto sector policy to avoid conflict of interest. He said that the Tariff Policy Board was constituted under Adviser to PM on Commerce and its members comprised Secretary Finance, Chairman FBR and others. The draft of tariff policy, he said, was finalized and now the Tariff Policy Board would approve the tariff policy next month, much ahead of upcoming budget so a balanced tariff policy could be formulated in consultation with all stakeholders.

Dawood said that the “Look Africa Policy” proved more successful beyond his expectations because there was a lot of potential to boost bilateral trade. Pakistan’s bilateral trade with African region, he said, stood at $1.2 billion per annum that could be increased up to $3 billion. He said that Pakistan imported $400 million worth tea so Pakistan could seek tariff reduction in areas of engineering goods. He specifically identified that Pakistan’s manufactured motorcycles could enhance their share if tariff incentives could be equalized with India. “We will ask the African countries to reduce tariff on motorcycles because we import their tea worth $400 million on per annum basis,” he added.

He said that Millat tractors had started sending consignments to an African country and Pakistan could jack up its share for boosting up exports of engineering goods, chemicals, refrigerators, pumps, motors, IT products, and broken rice. He said that there were six economic zones in the African region and they were moving towards larger economic union but it might take some time, so for the time being they were focusing more on East African Conference in order to increase our trade shares.

The prime minister’s adviser said that Pakistan decided to follow up on different steps in order to promote the Look Africa Policy as one consultant belonging to Egypt would be invited to Pakistan to speak with 500 businessmen for apprising them about the real potential of the African region. Pakistani businessmen, he said, used to look towards the US, EU, and China only but there was a lot of untapped potential in the African region.

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