ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly was informed on Monday that Pakistan being member of World Trade Organization (WTO) has extended Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to all WTO member countries except India and Israel.
Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan told the House during question hour that the extension of MFN as member of WTO is a reciprocal measure.
He said in the case of MFN treatment Pakistan enjoys non-discriminatory market access to these countries. He said in 2015-16 Pakistan’s overall trade was 62.324 billion dollars out of which Pakistan’s exports are 21.98 billion dollars and imports were worth 4.34 billion dollar.
The Minister said Pakistan has remained in the forefront of multilateral trade negotiations by virtue of belonging to the WTO.
Answering another question, he said Pakistan is importing mainly raw material from India.
To a question, the Minister said Pakistan and the United States enjoy multilateral relations including trade and commerce. He said Pakistan is a beneficiary of US Generalized System of Preferences programme, which provides duty free access to over 3500 products.
He said sectors covered under the GSP include various manufactured items and inputs Jewelry, various agricultural products chemicals, minerals, marble and carpets. He said currently the United States is the largest export destination for Pakistani goods.
Khurram Dastgir said the government has passed on maximum benefit to agriculture sector which include subsidies on fertilizers.
Replying to a question, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch told the House that the repatriation of Afghan refugees is going on in full swing and 264000 registered Afghan Refugees have been repatriated upto last month and approximately 200,000 un-documented Afghan Nationals have also returned to their country so far.
He said total number of Afghan Refugees holding proof of registration cards is 1.47 million while there are approximately 0.7 million un-documented Afghan Nationals in Pakistan.
To a question, he said Afghan refugees impacted Pakistan’s economy upto 104 billion dollars.
To a question, Parliamentary Secretary for Inter-Provincial Coordination Muhammad Shafqat Hayat Khan told the House that various steps are being taken to settle disputes of Pakistani workers in Saudi Arabia.
He said management of the concerned companies has been approached and discussed issues of Pakistani workers. He said about 3500 out total 8500 workers have been returned to Pakistan while about 2600 are shifted to other companies and arrangements to repatriate the remaining workers or to settle them another companies are being made.
He said a legal cell has been established by the Pakistan Embassy in Saudi Arabia and power of attorney of 2000 workers were arranged to file their cases.
He said financial dues of all workers were reconciled with the help companies’ management. The parliamentary secretary said the basic facilities like food, water and air conditioning are being provided to Overseas Pakistanis in all camps in Saudi Arabia. He said the Pakistan Embassy at Riyadh is in constant touch with Saudi authorities to sort out issues of Pakistani workers.
The National Assembly today passed “The Pakistan Council of Science and Technology Bill, 2016”. It was moved by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid. The House resumed discussion on the report of the Committee on FATA Reforms, 2016. Taking part in the debate, Shahabuddin said reforms should expeditiously be approved for the betterment of the people of tribal areas.
Sahibzada Tariqullah said FATA should be merged into a Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa before the general elections of 2018. He said status of Provincially Administered Tribal Areas should also be made clear after FATA’s merger into KP. He said tax exemption to Malakand should continue after tribal areas merger. Muhammad Jamaluddin said FATA should be given provincial status instead of merging it into KP.
Shah Jee Gul Afridi said tribal areas merger into Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa will certainly bring progress, development prosperity to the area. He said FATA should be given representation in KP Assembly as a result of next general elections.
Winding up discussion, Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said the government is committed for the development and welfare of the people of FATA. He said the committee on FATA Reforms, during its visit to every tribal agency, consulted all the stakeholders including tribal elders and members of civil society.
He said majority of the people supported FATA’s integration into Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. He said suggestions to reduce the transition period for complete merger of the tribal areas from five years have been received and the committee will further discuss this matter.
The Adviser said rehabilitation of Temporarily Dislocated Persons and reconstruction of infrastructure, houses and shops have been recommended before the merger of FATA. He said initiating a major programme of socio-economic development and capacity building of FC are pre-requisites for the integration. He said Tribal Areas Riwaj Act will be introduced while mainstreaming of FATA enabling residents of the area to opt any system of their choice for the settlements of disputes and issues.
The House will now meet tomorrow morning at 10:30. NNI