Islamabad: Ministry of Industries and its WTO Cell is committed to broaden the industrial base of Pakistan, upgrade the production methods and create awareness among the existing industry about the rapidly changing international trading and business rules. The WTO Cell of the Ministry of Industries, Islamabad, in collaboration with the WTO Cell and Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) held a seminar titled “General Awareness about WTO & and Surgical & Sports Industry of Pakistan with respect to Non Agricultural Market Access (NAMA)”.
The Ministry of Industries team was led by Mrs. Shaista Sohail, Joint Secretary, Policy & Planning Wing; Ministry of Industries. Other members of the team were, Ms. Seema Raza Bokhari, Chief WTO, Mr. Muhammad Akram Raza, NAMA Specialist and Mr. Abubakar Farooq, Economist/Trade Analyst.
Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, President SCCI, Chairman Pakistan Sports Goods Association (PSGS), Chairman Surgical Instrument Association, Executive members of the SCCI and representatives of surgical instruments and sports goods manufacturing companies, officials from concerned departments/organizations participated in the seminar.
Ms. Seema Raza Bokhari (Chief WTO) briefed the participants about WTO and its implications for Pakistan. She said that when the Doha Round is finalized, Pakistan will have to carry out tariff reductions as per the Swiss formula in the NAMA Agreement. She was of the view that Pakistan being a developing country will have the right to exercise flexibility options depending upon the coefficient it chooses to apply in the Swiss Formula. Ms. Seema apprised the participants that the proposed implementation timeline is ten years for developing countries from the year following the year NAMA is finalized as opposed to five years for the developed countries thus providing cushion and policy space for improving competitiveness and productivity of domestic industry.
She highlighted the implications of NAMA for Pakistan’s local industry especially for Sports & Surgical sectors in Sialkot, being the hub of exports in Sialkot. She emphasized that the technical standards were a matter of great significance and would be crucial under the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). She suggested that Pakistan therefore needed to bring its production methods and processes as per recognized world standards to be able to meet the requisite quality standards in international markets. The participants feared that this can become a major impediment for developing countries in making meaningful use of market access and the industrialists need to prepare for the challenges ahead.
Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, President SCCI informed that Sialkot has about 7000 SMEs producing exportable products especially sports & surgical items worth of US$1.25 billion. The President SCCI and representatives from the sports and surgical sectors requested that strong and committed government support would be required to develop new products, brands and establishment of training institutes, particularly for sports & surgical sectors in Sialkot. They emphasized that the industry in Sialkot was committed to take up the challenges. In this regard, they highlighted some initiatives being taken by them to improve technology and standards.
President SCCI thanked the Chief WTO and her team for informing the participants about the WTO regime, its implications for the local industry and for registering their concerns on trade related issues.
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Haji Ahmed Malik
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