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Prime Minister's Advisor on Commerce, Textile, Industries and Production and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood said on Wednesday that actions of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) are an area of concern and he has raised this issue with Prime Minister, Imran Khan. Dawood, an active member of Pakistan Business Council, prime body of businesspeople, was responding to media questions during a press conference convened to share FBR prepared provincial trade figures of the first month of current fiscal year i.e. July 2019, his planned visit to Afghanistan during the current month and outcome of recent visit to South Korea.

Local and foreign investors and businessmen have raised the issue of NAB's 'highhandedness' directly with the Prime Minister who is also Minister-in-Charge of Investment, he added. As the Prime Minister's Advisor informed the media that he has invited Korean entrepreneurs from different sectors, he was asked whether he was facing any difficulty in convincing international investors to come to Pakistan at a time when domestic and international investors are facing 'harassment' by NAB (including his cousin Hussain Dawood) he replied, "I have discussed the matter with the Prime Minister, that it is not a good thing and it should be stopped now. NAB should not go against individual businessmen."

Replying to another question, Abdul Razak Dawood said that this is "absolutely area of concern for him."

Dawood revealed that the country's exports have posted a growth of 14.23 per cent - $ 1.87 billion in July 2019-20 compared to $ 1.63 billion in the corresponding month in 2018-19 whereas imports stood at $ 3.9 billion compared to $ 4.8 billion, showing a reduction of 18.39 per cent.

The provisional trade figures prepared by PRAL- an arm of FBR - show that exports of rice increased by 71 per cent, readymade garments by 17 per cent, home- textiles by 4 per cent, plastic goods by 34 per cent, chemicals by 26 per cent and mangoes by 33 per cent.

Imports of products that showed a decline included mineral products that declined by 23 per cent, vehicles by 42 per cent, textiles by 35 per cent, paper and paper board by 23 per cent. However import of machinery increased by 11 per cent and HSD by 26 per cent.

Dawood said that he is not an economist but a businessman and stated that when he asked an economist as to when the impact of current devaluation will be seen, he was told after six months. He said July was the first month where over 14 per cent growth was witnessed in exports but added that "we will wait for August figures to evaluate the actual impact of devaluation. I think we are now in the right direction."

Prime Minister's Advisor further stated that businessmen have to register with the FBR at every cost as the government will not back off from this step.

Talking about his planned visit to Afghanistan, Abdul Razak Dawood said that he met Afghan ambassador to Pakistan on Wednesday who invited him to visit Afghanistan to discuss Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) whereas Afghanistan wants to discuss APTTA.

"I will visit Afghanistan along with my team any time between August 20 to 30, 2019 on the invitation of Afghan government," he continued.

Answering a question he said that regular trade with Afghanistan is beneficial for Pakistan but he is not satisfied with transit trade. He said transit trade is hurting Pakistan particularly in items such as pencils, tyres, blades etc.

He said that the Commerce Division has worked on APTTA in the light of agreements signed by other landlocked countries like Nepal, adding that the issue of Afghan transit trade with India through land route also came under discussion during the recent visit of Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani but added that he (Dawood) clearly informed him that trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan is a bilateral not a trilateral issue, while requesting Afghanistan not to raise it.

Sharing details of his recent visit to South Korea, he said that Pakistan has gained market access in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the EU but "we need market access to Canada, Japan, Korea and Australia."

He said South Korea has given market access to Bangladesh, India and Vietnam etc at 13 per cent duty.

"I have asked the Koreans to match 13 per cent duty with respect to Pakistani products. Koreans offered to discuss this issue at the level of Working Group which will meet in October next," he continued.

Answering anther question, he said China has conveyed to Pakistan that FTA-II will sail through its Parliament by October next.

In reply to a question with respect to India after recent escalation in tensions, Dawood said he is a businessman and looks at things differently, adding that he would not take any decision with respect to India in haste.

Dawood stated that the main reason for the decline in FDI is that most of the CPEC projects are completed. He, however, acknowledged that one of the reasons for the decline in imports can be attributed to a decline in import of machinery due to completion of CPEC projects.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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I did graduation from the Government Murray College Sialkot and MSc in Psychology from the University of Punjab. I am in journalism since 1990. I worked in Daily Nawa-i-Waqt as sub editor and staff reporter in Daily Pakistan and Daily Din prior to joining Daily Business Recorder. I have been associated with this newspaper since 2000 as staff reporter. Energy Sector, Commerce / Trade and Industries are key areas of my interest. I have also the credit of exposing number of scams like Rental Power Plants (RPPs), LNG, sugar import, etc.