National interests to be safeguarded in FTAs with Turkey, Thailand: Senate told

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ISLAMABAD, Jan 17 (APP): Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir
Khan Tuesday informed the Senate that national interests would be
fully safeguarded while negotiating Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)
with Turkey and Thailand and reviewing the FTA with China.
Replying to various questions during Question Hour, the minister
said that FTAs would not only improve Pakistan’s competitiveness but
also enhance country’s exports.
Khurram Dastgir while rejecting the impression that Pak-Afghan
Transit Trade has shifted to Iran, said Afghanistan had made worth
$ 2.55 billion commercial imports through Pak-Afghan Transit Trade
during 2014-15, which was a record.
The Minister conceded that the country was facing trade
deficit during the last three years. In the financial year 2015-16.
Pakistan recorded trade deficit of $ 23.96 billion as compared to $
22.1 37 billion during the last financial year, reflecting increase
of 8.42%.
He said no study has been conducted in the recent years to
assess the impact of Pak-Afghanistan Transit Trade on the
manufacturing sector in the country.
Under Article 30 of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement
(APTTA), 2010, various businesses, involved in clearance of transit
cargo such as port terminal operators shipping companies,
stevedores, freight forwarders, customs agents, transport operators,
insurance companies, tracking companies and toll tax collectors,
earn revenues from transit trade, which helped the economy in
general, he said.
He said since, transit trade is about facilitating Afghan global
imports through Karachi port up to Torkham border, the manufacturing
sector of Pakistan is not directly involved in, affected by or
benefiting through the transit arrangement.
To another query, Khurram said the Prime Minister has recently
announced a substantive package of Rs.180 billion for exporters,
which would help raise textile exports substantially.
He said e-Commerce in Pakistan was currently at an initial but
evolving stage. The past few years have seen a rising
trend of domestic online shopping owing to the availability of
required infrastructure for e-Commerce in Pakistan, he said.
He said State Bank of Pakistan has issued various
rules/regulations/instructions to banks for regulating
online transactions.
To prevent cardholders from risks and vulnerabilities from
card data losses, SBP has issued regulations on Payment Card
Security, he added.
The minister said these regulations were intended to help
standardization and enhancement of security features of payment
cards, ensuring confidentiality of customer’s data and to
promote effective and secure means of electronic Payment mechanisms.
Moreover, in order to mitigate the risks associated with
internet banking and safeguard the interests of customers, SBP has
issued regulations for the security of internet banking, he said.
He said these regulations contained in the Payment Systems and
Electronic Fund Transfers Act, 2007, and outline a minimum set of
operational, administrative, technical and physical safeguards to
secure internet banking offered by the banks in Pakistan.
The minister said Ministry of Commerce was also working on a
policy framework for development of e-Commerce/ digital trade in the
country.