The National Assembly was informed on Wednesday that the government has taken various steps to strengthen textile and other sectors in the country.

Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan told the House during question hour that sales tax of five export oriented sectors namely textile, leather, sports goods, surgical goods and carpets has been made part of zero rated tax regime from July this year.

He said technology upgradation fund scheme for the textile sector is also available and the facility of duty free import of textile machinery is continuing.

The Minister said mark-up rates on export refinance facility, has been brought down to three percent and the long-term finance facility is continuing at five percent.

To a question, Khurram Dastgir Khan said trade policy cannot be country specific and is based on the principles of non-discrimination for all WTO members. He said 2nd phase of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement is being negotiated and efforts are being made to dove-tail trade and investment activities envisaged under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

To another question, the Minister said the government is supporting establishment of food processing units in less developed areas of the country. 

Answering a question, Khurram Dastgir Khan said Pakistan's exports have been increased by 6.01 percent in November, 2016 as compared to the same period last year as a result of prudent policies of the government. He said concrete steps are being taken to enhance Pakistan's export basket. He said 20 billion rupees will be spent on development of export sector.

He said uninterrupted power supply is being ensured to the industrial sector for the increase of Pakistan's exports. He said electricity tariff has been reduced by three rupees per unit for the industrial sector.

He said capacity of Lahore Expo Centre has been doubled while ground-breaking of Peshawar Expo Centre and three land ports at Torkham, Wagha and Chaman is also expected this fiscal year. He said National Tariff Commission Act has been revamped to counter import surge through unfair trade and strengthen trade defence mechanism.

The Minister said EXIM Bank is being established to facilitate export credit. He said there is consistent effort for negotiating additional market access for Pakistani products in world markets.

To a question, he said GSP Plus has helped Pakistani products' access to the European Union countries at zero tariff. He said the total exports to European Union in current fiscal year are over 5226 million dollars.

On a point of order, Leader of the Opposition Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah said that PPP always played a pivotal role in strengthening and protecting the Parliament and democracy in Pakistan.

He said parliament is a sacred institution and it is responsibility of all of us to uphold its sanctity. He said sanctity of institutions should not be undermined in any way.

The House will now meet on Thursday afternoon at 4:00 PM.

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