In a first, Pakistan has conducted the soft launch of a web portal that disseminates information about which products are being imported, their origin and quantity and what Pakistan is exporting across the globe.
The information is aimed at facilitating domestic manufacturers and traders in exploring import and export markets around the world.
Initially, “it will hold information related to the top 25 global markets including the US, the UK, Germany and China,” Pakistan Single Window (PSW) Domain Officer Umair Mahmood Siddiqui said while giving a presentation on Friday.
The Trade Information Portal of Pakistan (TIPP), being operated by PSW, holds up-to-date trade-related information on its website such as regulatory requirements, statutory regulatory orders (SROs) and tax rates applicable in Pakistan and in export destinations.
The website holds information about approximately 40,000 items, compiled from 77 different agencies in the country. The information related to specific products can be accessed by entering their HS codes.
Over 530 laws, regulations, procedures and other trade-related measures from over 77 government agencies have been completely digitised and they can now be accessed online.
“Businesses can also access and download licences, permits, certificates and other documents from the portal and they can gain complete information about the applicable fees, processing time and procedure,” cited a statement issued by PSW.
The information, which was earlier gathered individually by the manufacturers and traders after spending a meaningful amount of time and money, would now help the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to access global markets for their products, a participant at the event commented.
The portal is being developed in compliance with Pakistan’s commitment under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
It has been developed using a toolkit designed by the World Bank. Besides, USAID and Pakistan Regional Economic Integration Activities (PREIA) provided consultants for the project, an official said on the sidelines of the event.
PSW is an initiative of the federal government with focus on transforming the trade and industrial ecosystem in Pakistan.
PSW officials said that the website would keep adding the related information round the clock. The information would be safe and authentic.
However, the government holds no responsibility for the authenticity of the information.
“It is only an information portal and has no legal value. The responsibility (of double checking and authentication of the information) falls on the people,” PSW consultant Zayd Butler said.
The website provides dedicated information to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis travelling in and out of the country.
Most of the information is related to products that the non-resident Pakistanis send to their family members from their host countries or bring along with them while visiting Pakistan.
A separate page will guide the overseas Pakistanis about the regulatory requirements and applicable tax rates on products that move frequently between the homeland and host countries of the expatriates.
PSW is scheduled to make a full-fledged rollout of the information portal on March 31. At present, the website is registering traders and visitors. The portal will save time and cost of traders.
Welcoming the participants to the event, PSW Chief Domain Officer Naveed Abbas Memon said “the portal will provide the local business community with easy access to information on import and export regulations and procedures.”
In addition, it aims to improve the predictability and transparency of Pakistan’s business environment and provide foreign and domestic investors with quick and timely access to trade rules and regulations.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2022.