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Minister hints at FTA with Japan

Dawn, Pakistan

Minister hints at FTA with Japan

By Staff Reporter

1 May 2014

KARACHI: Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan on Wednesday said that negotiations on signing of a free trade agreement with Japan were progressing.

In a meeting with the members of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma), the minister agreed with the association’s chairman Yasin Siddiq and said the FTA with China carried lot of deficiencies and that it was signed in a hurry by the previous government.

The minister assured that all such deficiencies would be removed at the time of signing of FTA-2 with China. He further added that the government would ask the Chinese authorities to withdraw 3.5 per cent import duty on basic textile products like cotton yarn and fabric.

On the occasion, he said the entire SRO regime will be streamlined and all sorts of bottlenecks and distortions will be removed.

The minister pointed out that every time trade and industry faced issues, the sectors demanded government intervention and support in the shape of subsidy or rebates. “All this ends up in loss of huge funds in corruption and malpractices,” he said.

He further said that there was no increase in machinery imports despite facilitation by the government and on the contrary huge funds were diverted and invested in real estate.

Responding to the issue raised by members of Aptma over stuck up sales tax refunds of around Rs3 billion, the minister said the ideal situation would be that no deduction should be made if it had to be paid back to exporters.

However, he said since the Ministry of Commerce is in full agreement with Aptma’s suggestion that there should be no payment and no refund but the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), which is responsible for such payments, has its own issues based on larger perspectives.

Similarly, he said the sales tax refund issue is also directly linked with the FBR.

He added that the Ministry of Commerce will take up the issue with FBR so that the textile industry gets the funds and start achieving higher growth.