NAB should not act against business community: PM advisor Abdul Razak Dawood

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Abdul Razak Dawood, noted that he has apprised the premier over NAB’s actions against the business community. He also noted that Pakistan’s exports have risen by 14.23% and the country is seeking to gain market access to China, Korea, Japan, US, Canada and other countries.

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Abdul Razak Dawood, Advisor to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Commerce, on Wednesday, stated that he has consulted the premier to deliberate over directing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from acting against the business community of Pakistan.

Commenting on the accountability watchdog’s actions targeting Hussain Dawood of the Engro Group, which operates a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, Abdul Razak Dawood noted that he has consulted the Prime Minister over this matter.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Abdul Razak Dawood noted that the premier understands the challenges faced by the businessmen fearful of NAB proceedings. Without revealing his conversation with the premier, Dawood termed the matter as a cause for concern. He said, “I have discussed the matter with the Prime Minister, it is not favorable as NAB is not meant to act against every businessman, and we must stop it.”

Dawood highlighted that economists observe that the impact of currency devaluation can be observed in the economy for at least six to eight months.

Responding to a question, the premier’s aide noted that businessmen are of the opinion that no-cooperating with the government in documenting the economy will serve their purpose. However, he said that the “government will not back down and they must get themselves registered.” Abdul Razak noted that big businesses are supportive of documentation of the economy, but small-scale shop owners are resisting the motion.

Exports Rise by 14.23%

Responding to a question on the escalation of confrontation with India along the Line of Control, the Adviser to PM on Commerce noted that the authorities are examining the situation along the LoC to understand the exact nature of tensions. Commenting on the arrangements of trade with India, Abdul Razak Dawood said, “Trade with India is ongoing, and we will not make a hasty decision about suspending bilateral trade.”

Apprising the media on the improvements observed in Pakistan’s exports volume, the advisor noted that Pakistan’s exports have risen by 14.23%, increasing to $1.87 billion in July 2019, as compared to $1.6 billion observed in July 2018.

Abdul Razak said, “The trade gap is headed towards a positive direction, however, the performance of exports in the month of August will provide us a true picture of the trend.”

Commenting on the export products, Dawood noted that rice exports have increased by 71% in July 2019, while the one-year analysis reveals that plastic and plastic products have increased by 34%, mangoes have increased by 33%, footwear by 24% and readymade clothes by 17%.

Read more: Pakistani exports witness a 24% increase

Dawood highlighted that economists observe that the impact of currency devaluation can be observed in the economy for at least six to eight months. He stressed, “The rupee will not devalue against the dollar any further.”

Commenting on the yearly reductions in imports as observed in July 2019, Abdul Razak noted that the imports of vehicles has reduced by 42%, textile products by 35%, mineral products by 24% and paper and paper board by 22%. However, he also reported an increase in the imports of high-speed diesel by 26%, while the imports of machinery have increased by 11%.

Pak-Afghan Trade

Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, H.E Shukurallah Atif Mashal, on Wednesday, called on Abdul Razak Dawood to discuss the challenges faced by the two countries with regards to trade. The two dignitaries discussed measures to enhance bilateral trade.

The Advisor to the PM on Commerce noted in the press briefing that Islamabad has had favorable discussions with Kabul during the official visit of the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Dawood said, “As per our recommendation, an Afghan working team visited Islamabad to deliberate matters of bilateral trade and Afghan Transit Trade (ATT).”

Dawood added, “I will be visiting Kabul, and we are deliberating over the final schedule, which is expected to be set around 20th-30th August.”

We have gained some access to the markets of China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the European Union. We are also working towards gaining market access in the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and Korea.

The premier’s aide stressed that Kabul is willing to discuss a preferential trade agreement (PTA) with Pakistan, and the two countries will also undertake discussions on the Afghan Transit Trade. Dawood noted, “Engaging in enhanced regular trade in an adequate manner with Afghanistan will benefit us.”

Under the umbrella of the Afghan Transit Trade, Afghanistan imports lead pencil, black tea, razors, television sets and other commercial goods, which return to Pakistan and harm local industries. Commenting on India’s inclusion in the transit trade agreement, Dawood highlighted that Islamabad has apprised Kabul that it will be a bilateral trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said, “Afghanistan approves of Pakistan’s stance.”

Accessing Asian Markets

Abdul Razak Dawood revealed that Pakistan is on its way to gain greater access to the markets of Asia, alongside making head-ways in gaining market access to Australia, Japan, and the US, among other countries.

Dawood revealed, “We have gained some access to the markets of China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the European Union. We are also working towards gaining market access in the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and Korea.”

Dawood noted that by October, Pakistan will formally enter Phase-II of the FTA with China. He noted that the federal cabinet will provide its approval of the National Tariff Policy, which was approved by the premier around six weeks ago.

Read more: Devaluation, IMF talks and Pakistan exports – Shehryar Aziz

Apprising the media about his recent visit to South Korea, Dawood noted that Islamabad has requested preferential trade treatment from Seoul. He said, “We have informed Korea that it provides duty-free market access to various countries, including India, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam, while Pakistani products are charged a 13% duty, which makes it difficult for Islamabad to compete. We have asked for similar trade treatment.”

He noted that the Korean authorities agreed to schedule a working group meeting in early September, to be held in Korea.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Advisor to the PM on Commerce, Abdul Razak Dawood, also received a delegation of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, spearheaded by Mr. Shigeki Furuta. The delegation discussed avenues and measures to innovate the automobiles and textile industries of Pakistan in order to enhance trade and investment.


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