Event Title: Senator Zeeshan Khanzada, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Commerce Presiding over a Meeting of the Committee at Parliament House Islamabad
Event Date: 2023-08-30
The Senate Standing Committee on Commerce convened today at the Parliament House, presided over by the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Zeeshan Khanzada. Distinguished attendees included Senators Fida Muhammad, Palwasha Muhammad Zai Khan, Talha Mehmood, and Danesh Kumar. Federal Minister for Commerce Gohar Ejaz, Secretary Commerce, CEO TDAP Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, along with other relevant officials also participated.
During the meeting, the committee addressed the matter of approximately 40 vintage vehicles presently stationed at the dry port. Authorities elucidated that importers had brought these vehicles under their own volition, as there exists no definitive policy regarding vintage vehicles. Subsequently, the issue was referred to the Ministry, leading to the creation of a summary submitted twice to the federal cabinet. Regrettably, the cabinet neither rejected nor approved the summary. The committee, in response, emphasized the necessity of composing a letter to the Prime Minister, seeking a resolution on this matter. The committee also recommended tabling the summary in the Cabinet.
Caretaker Federal Minister for Commerce Gohar Ejaz briefed the committee on the prevailing conditions surrounding imports, exports, and associated subjects. Central to his priorities was extending support to exporters, emphasizing the importance of fostering a robust framework for industrialists and businessmen. Senator Fida Muhammad raised concerns over electricity bills and the role of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in escalating electricity costs. He noted that 103 IPPs were contributors to the high electricity prices. The caretaker federal minister attributed 8 percent line losses to the industry and a significant 35 percent in residential areas.
Further elaborating, Caretaker Federal Minister for Commerce Gohar Ejaz informed that last year's exports totaled $32.5 billion. He disclosed aspirations to elevate exports to $58 billion, with an ultimate target of $80 billion. Collaborative efforts with industrialists were underway to achieve this ambitious goal, and measures were being devised accordingly. The restoration of the "zero-rated regime" was also advocated.
CEO TDAP, Muhammad Zubair Motiwala shared insights into strategies aimed at augmenting exports of agro-products, food, IT, and seafood. Given the limitations in boosting textile exports, the focus was redirected towards other successful commodities.
Notably, agro-food product exports including rice, fish, fruits, vegetables, meat, sugar/confectionery, oilseeds, and others exhibited an overall 8 percent increase in FY 2022-2023. The financial year witnessed a total export value of $5161 million. The Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce highlighted substantial growth in exports of processed food and tobacco, as well as increased trade with Central Asian and African nations, which surged by approximately 25 percent. CEO TDAP projected a target of $10 billion exports for agro-food products in the next 5-10 years. The recent "FoodAg 2023" exhibition in Karachi garnered immense success, hosting participants from 61 countries and securing deals worth around $410 million. Additionally, seafood exports displayed a 15% increase ($496 million) in the financial year 2023. In the realm of IT exports, an estimated value of $2.59 billion was projected for the same fiscal year.
Intellectual property organisation (IPO) officials apprised the committee of the challenges faced in the trademark registration offices, particularly the shortage of personnel, and informed them about the plans to establish offices in Peshawar and Quetta. Currently, 98 positions exist, with 58 vacancies due to the absence of service rules until September 2, 2022. With the advent of notified service rules, recruitment efforts are slated to commence. The establishment of a trademark registration office in Peshawar is in the pipeline, and the Quetta office is expected to be operational within the next four months.