National interests to be safeguarded in FTAs with Turkey, Thailand: Dastgir


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan on Tuesday informed the Senate that national interests would be fully safeguarded while negotiating Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Turkey and Thailand and reviewing the FTA with China.

Replying to various questions during Question Hour, the minister said that FTAs would not only improve Pakistan’s competitiveness but also enhance country’s exports.

Khurram Dastgir while rejecting the impression that Pak-Afghan Transit Trade has shifted to Iran, said Afghanistan had made worth $ 2.55 billion commercial imports through Pak-Afghan Transit Trade during 2014-15, which was a record.

The Minister conceded that the country was facing trade deficit during the last three years. In the financial year 2015-16.

Pakistan recorded trade deficit of $ 23.96 billion as compared to $ 22.1 37 billion during the last financial year, reflecting increase of 8.42 percent.

He said no study has been conducted in the recent years to assess the impact of Pak-Afghanistan Transit Trade on the manufacturing sector in the country.

Under Article 30 of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), 2010, various businesses, involved in clearance of transit cargo such as port terminal operators shipping companies, stevedores, freight forwarders, customs agents, transport operators, insurance companies, tracking companies and toll tax collectors, earn revenues from transit trade, which helped the economy in general, he said.

He said since transit trade is about facilitating Afghan global imports through Karachi port up to Torkham border, the manufacturing sector of Pakistan is not directly involved in, affected by or benefiting through the transit arrangement.

To another query, Khurram said the Prime Minister has recently announced a substantive package of Rs 180 billion for exporters, which would help raise textile exports substantially.

He said e-Commerce in Pakistan was currently at an initial but evolving stage. The past few years have seen a rising trend of domestic online shopping owing to the availability of required infrastructure for e-Commerce in Pakistan, he said.

He said State Bank of Pakistan has issued various rules/regulations/instructions to banks for regulating online transactions.

To prevent cardholders from risks and vulnerabilities from card data losses, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has issued regulations on Payment Card Security, he added.

The minister said these regulations were intended to help standardization and enhancement of security features of payment cards, ensuring confidentiality of customer’s data and to promote effective and secure means of electronic Payment mechanisms.

Moreover, in order to mitigate the risks associated with internet banking and safeguard the interests of customers, SBP has issued regulations for the security of internet banking, he said.

He said these regulations contained in the Payment Systems and Electronic Fund Transfers Act, 2007, and outline a minimum set of operational, administrative, technical and physical safeguards to secure internet banking offered by the banks in Pakistan.

The minister said Ministry of Commerce was also working on a policy framework for development of e-Commerce/ digital trade in the country.

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