Govt must refrain from hasty counterproductive trade deals: ICCI ex-president

Trade deals need debates in NA before finalisation

ISLAMABAD: The government shouldn’t finalise trade deals with friendly countries in haste, as Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) signed earlier damaged the economy, a business leader said Sunday.

Atif Ikram Sheikh, former president of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) said in a statement: “Our negotiators have failed to hold meaningful negotiations and safeguard national interests before finalising such trade deals which have proved counterproductive.”

He said the trade deals increased imports by 300 per cent, hundreds of industries were closed, the government lost revenue, and banks lost money due to defaults while many jobs were destroyed.

He said that trade talks with Turkey, Thailand, and Korea should be suspended unless private sector is taken on board and their reservations are considered; otherwise, masses will have to pay for the actions of the trade officials.

Atif Ikram Sheikh who is also the group leader of Haripur Chamber of Commerce said that Pakistani products are not only uncompetitive in the international market but also in the local market.

Our markets are flooded with general items smuggled or imported from other countries which have better quality and are usually cheaper which proves that local industry is not competitive even at home, he said.

He said that trade deals should not be left at the mercy of some officials or a ministry; they should be debated thoroughly in the National Assembly before approval.

China is a friendly country but she is getting undue advantage from the FTA signed in 2006 resulting in heavy losses to our economy; therefore, she should cooperate to make the deal balanced, he said.

He said that trade officials should not compromise national interests at any cost and as it is to everyone’s knowledge that we cannot afford faulty deals.

 

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