The Cabinet Sub-Committee on production and export on Friday cleared the final version of Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STFP) 2015-18, envisaging a $35 billion exports target. The meeting presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was given a detailed briefing on the products to be exported in the next three years and target destination.

Sources said the meeting was informed that the focus market of basmati rice would be the Middle East (Iran, Saudi Arabia) and for horticulture products South East Asia and the Middle East with exportable products of fruits, kinnow, mango, vegetables, potato, onion, fresh vegetables. Middle East, including Iran, would also be one of the market targets for meat products and the government strategy to capture the market would be certification of products establishing market linkages and approval of facilities by importing countries,

Sri Lanka, India, Africa and Afghanistan would be target markets for cement products and the government would provide a freight subsidy to export to Africa and a strategy would also include revision of duty on raw material on coal and shredded tyre and proactive fighting of anti-dumping litigation in South Africa.

The meeting was further informed that market-linked focus products for Iran would be basmati rice and meat; for China rice, yarn, fabrics and garments; for Afghanistan wheat, rice, meat and cement. The policy strategy for market-linked products for Iran would be to provide warehousing support branding support, certification support, border market support as well infrastructure development support to the sectors and for Afghanistan, the strategy includes infrastructure development- banking and rail link and zero rating on export of plastics. Strategy for market-linked products would be effective utilisation of existing concession-marketing, review and early conclusion of 2nd phase FTA and compliance with SPS regulation on rice. The government would provide Rs 20 billion for research and development to enhance country”s exports and meet the target set under the three-year framework.

A statement issued by Finance Ministry after the meeting stated that Finance Minister at the outset of the meeting underscored the need for identifying and undertaking urgent measures to boost production and exports. The relevant ministries were directed to immediately finalise their short-term targets with corresponding action plans for presentation to the Committee in its next meeting.

In continuation of the proceedings of the previous meeting, Ministry of Commerce presented the final version STFP 2015-18. The Committee was briefed that short term measures will have product and market focus to attain results in short-term. The meeting was informed that the plan of action has been put into a state of readiness and as soon as the Policy is approved, its implementation will be carried out immediately. The Finance Minister while endorsing, in principle, the proposals included in STPF 2015-18, directed the Ministry of Commerce to solicit final approval from the Prime Minister.

The meeting also took stock of the critical issues confronting the agriculture sector including production constraints, commodity pricing, regulatory framework and input costs. The Committee directed Ministry of National Food Security and Research to come up with proposals in consultation with Provincial Governments and relevant federal ministries and present to the Committee in its next meeting.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) gave a briefing to the Committee on export-led growth models focusing on Malaysia, South Korea, Turkey and Singapore. It was noted that value-addition, diversification, technology and Research and Development (R and D), ease of doing business were key elements to boost exports. It was also highlighted by the SBP that key constraints on this score currently being faced by Pakistan related to lack of R and D and technology initiatives, concentration in traditional products, limited resource availability, fragmentation and inadequate investment in the infrastructure etc. The Finance Minister while appreciating the SBPs presentation desired that the “Committee on Ease of Doing Business in Pakistan” may hold its meeting immediately and present recommendations at the earliest. Members of the Committee including Minister for Commerce, Khurram Dastgir Khan, and Minister for Planning and Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal, National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Bosan as well as Parliamentary Secretary for Finance attended the meeting. Secretaries of Finance, Industries and Production, Commerce, National Food Security and Research, Chief Statistician, Member FBR and other senior officers of relevant ministries also attended the meeting.