A meeting of the Senate Standing on Commerce was held on February 15, 2017, at 11:00 pm in the Parliament House, Islamabad. The meeting was chaired by Senator Shibli Faraz.
The Standing Committee took note of different factors that contributed to the decline in the trend of exports from $ 23.9 billion dollars to $ 20.8 billion dollars in 2016 and also discussed the possible reasons for the current halt in the trend. The committee was briefed by the Ministry of Commerce regarding different steps taken by it to increase the volume of exports. The Committee was of the view that it is rather the structural issues that need to be addressed and an enhanced role of Parliament can best address it. The Committee asserted that it is necessary pertinent that a long-term vision is developed to achieve the desired volume of exports.
While discussing the missing link between the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2015-2018 and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Committee noted with dismay that the Ministry has not been able to make any progress and the benefits that Pakistan can reap have not fully been explored. The committee was of opinion that that STPF should be revised and a vision pertaining to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor needs to be incorporated in it. Moreover, Academia and the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry need to play an active role and conduct research pertaining to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to explore its full potential.
The Standing Committee was briefed by the representative from the Ministry of Commerce regarding the impacts of FTA’s to local industries. The Committee noted that there is usually a lack of transparency with respect to different FTAs which not only limits the opportunities offered by it but also at times camouflages the possible negative provisions. The Committee was of opinion that the interests of local businesses should be the utmost priority and shall be kept in mind while signing any FTA.
The meeting was attended by members of the committee including Senator Ilyas Ahmed Bilour, Senator SaleemMandviwala, Senator Karim Ahmed Khawaja and Senator Mufti Abdul Sattar. Besides the Senior Officials from the concerned ministries.