Commerce Ministry officials told a Senate panel that if the country’s entire gold business was documented, then the gold import ban could be lifted.
The Senate Standing Committee on Commerce, chaired by PTI Senator Zeeshan Khanzada, was also informed that the main impediment to the import of gold in the country was that the entire business was undocumented.
Federal Commerce Secretary Muhammad Sualeh Ahmad Faruqi told the panel that the country could not import gold under the law, and that this was a matter for the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
Senator Fida Muhammad of the PTI maintained that the SBP was not allowing gold imports due to declining foreign reserves.
Gold imports were permitted in 2013, according to ministry officials, resulting in a $1 billion export. However, they added that gold imports had dropped to $350 million during this time.
According to the commerce secretary, Pakistan has signed a transit trade agreement with Uzbekistan. He added that a similar agreement would be signed with Tajikistan by the end of the day.
The secretary also informed the committee that a transit trade agreement had been reached with Kazakhstan and that it would be signed soon. According to the official, transit trade with Central Asian countries would take place through Afghanistan, Iran, and China. He added that trains could be used for transit trade through Iran if the railway infrastructure was upgraded for this purpose.
PPP Senator Palwasha Mohammad Zai Khan enquired whether transit trade was possible through Afghanistan in the current situation, in which the neighbouring country was ruled by the Afghan Taliban.
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Six civilians died as a result of Afghan forces firing rockets into Pakistani territory from across the Chaman border on Sunday, in a major escalation in tensions between the two neighbours since the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul.
The incident occurred at a time when relations between Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban government are already strained due to a surge in terrorist attacks. Pakistan claims that the interim government is failing to prosecute the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliates.
Pakistan has seen 51% more attacks since the Taliban retook power in August 2021. The commerce secretary responded that trade was the only way to achieve peace and that there was no other option. He also stated that transit trade would take place via Iran and China.
The chairman of the panel stated that the Afghan Taliban had never prevented Pakistan from trading on their territory.
Senator Fida Muhammad maintained that India was creating problems for Pakistan in Afghanistan. He also stated that the country should work to increase trade with Afghanistan and Central Asian countries.