Trade liberalization inevitable for commerce growth: Dastgir

Karachi: Minister for Commerce, Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan on Tuesday said in order to make Pakistan’s trade growth sustainable,
liberalize trade regime is inevitable for Pakistan.
Speaking at a consultative meeting with regard to Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Turkey and Thailand, the minister has urged business community to come in offensive trade mode than to be defensive always.
The consultation was organized by the Ministry of Commerce in collaboration with Pakistan Business Council (PBC) to seek input from business community on ongoing negotiations on FTAs with Turkey and Thailand.
The minister assured the business community that interests of the local industry of Pakistan will be safeguarded but trade liberalization is need of the hour, which is in the larger interest of Pakistan’s economy and trade.
He said, along with inking FTAs with different countries, newly enacted defensive laws shall be implemented to protect industry of Pakistan.
“It is high time to shun trade paucities and follow trade possibilities by concluding more FTAs with other countries,” he concluded.
Welcoming the process to solicit input to formulate trade related policies and bilateral agreements, business community representatives were of the view that government should also reform taxation regime to improve competitiveness to take advantage from FTAs. 
Earlier, presenting the objectives of the meeting, Ms. Robina Athar, Member, National Tariff Commission (NTC) and former chief negotiator for FTAs and additional secretary, ministry of commerce was of the view that the overriding objective of the meeting was to get the pulse of our business community that will help the government formulate its strategy for the upcoming negotiations.
She said, since last two decades, the number of FTAs involving at least one Asian economy has increased by an average of 15 each year.
“Within Asia, she said FTAs involving the dynamic ASEAN +6 economies increased 10-fold from 17 in 2000 to 200 as of July 2014 accounting for 72% of the total Asian FTAs,” she added.
Chief Executive Officer of the PBC, Mr. Ehsan Malik lauded Ministry of Commerce’s effort to launch Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF). With regard to FTA with Turkey, he was of the view that there was a need to pursue tariff reduction on rice, as Turkey may seek tariff parity with China and Sri Lanka.
He proposed that negotiation team should press for tariff reductions on the high potential export products such as apparels and textiles and single cotton yarn of uncombed fibres.
He said we need to address anti-dumping duties imposed on yarn of manmade/synthetic/artificial staple fibers; and wall-type split air-conditioners and their outdoor and indoor units from Pakistan.
Before seeking input from the business community, Mr. Ahmed Fasih, Deputy Secretary (Europe) and Mr. Shafiq Shahzad, Deputy Secretary (Asia-Pacific) made detailed presentations on the state of negotiations with Turkey and Thailand.