ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday informed the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce that the foreign policy of the country has focused on economic diplomacy to promote trade and investments.
“Promotion of trade is the vision of Prime Minister,” Sartaj Aziz said while briefing the committee on role of Pakistan’s Embassies in promoting trade.
The meeting of the committee was held here under the chairmanship of Senator Syed Shibli Faraz.
Among others, the meeting was attended by Senators Mrs. Naseema Ehsan, Hilal-ur-Rehman, Mufti Abdul Sattar, Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar, Saleem Mandviwala, Mrs Rubina Khalid and Haji Saif Ullah Khan Bangash.
Secretary Commerce, Azmat Ali Ranjha, Additional Secretary Trade Diplomacy and officials from Commerce Ministry were also present on the occasion.
Sartaj Aziz said that appointments of about 41 trade officers were in the process, who would be deployed in different countries to promote trade.
He said that Pakistan has 88 embassies and 29 consulates in different countries of the world while the trade offices are in 36 embassies.
He highlighted the importance of promoting bright image of the country saying that image and perception have impact on the trade.
The advisor said that competitiveness, lack of skilled human resource and cost of doing business were the challenges the country has to cope with to boost its trade.
The advisor stressed the need for export diversification and overcoming the challenges of energy shortage to help promote trade.
The Advisor was of the view that quality of standard certification as well as promotion of entrepreneurship, research and development and technology were essential factors to develop trade.
He highlighted the importance to going beyond the traditional markets and exploring the African and Latin American markets.
Sartaj Aziz said that after the lifting UN sanctions on Iran, high level consideration were in process to promote trade.
He said, although UN sanctions have been lifted but the US sanctions were still in place, hence the trade through dollar currency was not possible. However, he added that other currencies like Euro could be utilized for this purpose.
The government envisages to uplift the trade with Iran up to $ 5 billion, the advisor informed the committee.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Senate Committee Syed Shibli Faraz, highlighted the importance of exploring South American markets by holding exhibitions of Pakistani products in those countries and also arranging such events here.
On the occasion Secretary Commerce, Azmat Ali Ranjha briefed the Senate committee about the selection process for the appointment of 41 trade officers.
He said that the selection process was transparent and was made purely on merit basis.
He informed the committee that the export target of $35 billion set in the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2015-18 was achievable.