Govt all set to unveil STPF 2012-15 today

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ISLAMABAD - The government is all set to unveil much-awaited Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2012-15 Wednesday (today) after getting formal approval from the federal cabinet on the same day.

Federal cabinet is set to approve the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2012-15 today (Wednesday), which would be announced by Senior Federal Minister for Commerce Makhdoom Amin Fahim on the same day. The prime minister on December 21, 2012 approved the Strategic Trade Policy Framework keeping exports target for three years (2012-15) at $95 billion in proposed STPF, which, according to the trade analysts, is challenging at a time when the economic situation in the country is unfriendly due to the power crisis and the poor law and order situation.

The Trade Policy 2012-15 was supposed to be announced in July or August 2012 but it was delayed due to the differences between the commerce and finance ministries over the subsidy issue. Earlier, the ministry of commerce has sought Rs60 billion, which the ministry of finance was not willing to provide, causing undue delay in the approval of the policy.

However, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf approved Rs26.50 billion for providing support and cash subsidies to various export-led sectors in the next three years. The most important part of the policy is the establishment of an Export-Import Bank (EXIM Bank) perhaps as an anchor of the new trade policy framework.

Other salient features of the policy comprise institutional interventions; export development initiatives and regulatory amendments. The policy envisages markup support for the future import and purchase of machinery and export finance scheme for selected export sectors, ad hoc relief at three percent of freight on board (FOB) to offset the impact of the high cost of utilities in selected sectors and establishment of Land Port Authority and Leather Export Promotion Council.

Meanwhile, the proposed STPF 2012-15, containing 19 regulatory changes, has planned to establish Land Port Authority (LPA) of Pakistan for effectively curbing around $8 billion informal trade (smuggling) and converting it into formal trade by choking the sea, border and land routes. The proposed authority would be a focal centre among anti-smuggling agencies of the federal and provincial governments and would coordinate with each other at borders, ports, land routes and waterways to curb smuggling and informal trade between the neighbouring countries.

The proposed structure of the LPA consists of executive director general, four provincial director generals, assisted by four directors, deputy directors and assistant directors to coordinate with anti-smuggling agencies like Pakistan Customs, Rangers, Frontier Constabulary, Frontier Corps and even police in some affected areas.

At least four sub-stations would be established at Wagah Border, Chaman, Torkham and Taftan. All facilitation from immigration to customs clearance will fall under one roof. The authority will fall under the control of Interior Ministry. In order to block the misuse of import of used tyres, the federal government would restrict the import of used tyres only for industrial users and commercial import of used tyres would be restricted.Years old proposal for placing ban on import of used scrap of plastic and waste of health related plastic bags is expected to be announced in the trade policy.

The Ministry of Commerce has proposed incentives for promotion of exports from insurgency-hit areas and less-developed areas like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Courtesy: The Nation

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