KARACHI: Chairman National Tariff Commission (NTC), M. Abbas Raza, while reacting to KCCI’s concerns expressed over extended ‘Protective Regime’ to a few sectors only, informed that the National Tariff Commission, for the very first time, plans to introduce a ‘Protection Policy’ in which relevant laws and regulations will be defined to safeguard the interest of local industries.
Speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Chairman NTC added that this Protection Policy will have a pre-defined timeline, starting from the concerned industry’s internship to maturity period.
Chairman Businessmen Group and Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra, Senior Vice President KCCI Mohammad Ibrahim Kasumbi, Vice President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, Former President KCCI AQ Khalil and KCCI Managing Committee members were present at the meeting.
Terming the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China as a ‘very serious’ issue, he opined that FTA with any country should be based on reciprocal business conditions and should be mutually advantageous for both the countries while the individual needs of the industry should also be kept in mind prior to finalizing an FTA. He advised the business and industrial community to be more aggressive and proactive in sharing their opinion over signing of FTAs otherwise the forthcoming FTAs with Turkey, Thailand and Korea may also create similar issues as being faced by the business community because of the FTA with China.
Referring to next round of negotiations on Pak-China FTA, NTC Chairman informed that the Ministry of Commerce has asked NTC to provide a list of those items which should be excluded from Pak-China FTA. Therefore, around 800 items have been identified after thorough review under a proper criteria which, NTC believes, should be removed from the FTA.
Abbas Raza further stated that four trade laws pertaining to National Tariff Commission have been formulated and will be implemented any moment after the signing by President of Pakistan. “Out of these four trade laws, the law pertaining to NTC structure has also been revised and the number of NTC members has been raised from the existing two to four members and a Chairman”, he added.
He said that under the new laws, the functioning of NTC has also been enhanced with focus on assistance to domestic industry, improving competitiveness of domestic industry, rationalization tariff structures and removal of tariff anomalies etc. while changes have also been introduced in the existing Anti-dumping laws. Under the new changes in law, raw materials solely used for export purposes which are included in DTRE will not be subjected to anti-dumping duty, he added.
He further asked KCCI to send their recommendations pertaining to Budget to the NTC as early as possible so that these could be thoroughly analyzed and incorporated in NTC’s proposals for federal budget. He said that under the law, the federal government including the Ministry of Commerce and others are bound to take action on NTC’s proposals within 15 days so any recommendation by NTC cannot be put aside as they have to consider it and take decision.
Abbas Raza said that NTC was the most transparent organization of Pakistan as it regularly holds public hearings prior to implementing any of its decisions. NTC is open to all types of discussions, he added, and invited BMG leadership and KCCI Office Bearers to enhance interaction with NTC by visiting Islamabad so that issues pertaining to tariff structure and FTAs could be discussed in detail.
Chairman Businessmen Group and Former President KCCI, Siraj Kassam Teli, in his remarks, advised the NTC Chairman to devise a system or create liaison between NTC and KCCI so that decisions affecting the businesses, industry, export & imports could be thoroughly discussed prior to implementation.
KCCI’s comments should be sought by NTC prior to implementation of decisions which affect the business and industrial community, he added.
BMG Chairman said that Karachi Chamber’s Research & Development Cell is working actively on various sectors of the economy including the tariff structures and FTAs. KCCI also holds a strong membership base of more than 22,000 members, comprising businessmen, industrialists, small traders, importers and exporters etc. whose businesses depend on NTC’s policies and decisions. Thus, a system or liaison between the two organizations will help timely resolve issues, minimize chances of errors and reduce the hardships being faced by business community.
President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra, while welcoming Chairman NTC, pointed out that irrational tariff structures of products being imported to and exported from Pakistan were terribly affecting trade and industry all over the country. In this regard, he particularly suggested that minimum tariffs should be applied on import of raw material in order to encourage local production and promote value addition in the larger interest of the country.
He further advised the NTC to review Pakistan’s FTAs with various countries, particularly China as under the existing FTA, Pakistan’s economy was suffering severe losses while the Small & Medium Enterprises were on the verge of complete collapse. Keeping in view the negative impact of Pak-China FTA, the forthcoming FTAs with other countries should accordingly be devised while KCCI should also be taken on board prior to finalizing any FTA.
He stressed the need to balance the tariff structure in order to safe guards the interest of local industry and efficiently tackle with the menace of smuggling.
Senior Vice President KCCI, Mohammad Ibrahim Kasumbi, on the occasion, stressed to define proper timeline for those industries enjoying protection by NTC. Due to prolonged protective regime, thousands of downstream businesses were suffering grave losses and were unable to compete in the market.
He said that due to expensive raw material, exorbitant taxes, discretionary powers of the FBR and high cost of doing business, the SME sector, which is the backbone of a country’s economy, was dying in Pakistan and it desperately required serious attention.