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Government likely to withdraw duty on dry milk import

May 08, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Government is likely to abolish regulatory duty on import of dry milk to keep interest of foreign investors in the lucrative dairy sector intact, officials said on Monday.

Ambassador of the Netherlands to Pakistan Ardi Stoios-Braken called on Secretary Commerce Younus Dagha during which travel advisory issues were also discussed. Dagha assured the envoy that Pakistan would abolish regulatory duty on dry milk import, sources said.

The secretary said the commerce division is cognizant of the issue faced by Friesland Campina regarding regulatory duty on dry milk and is “closely working with the stakeholders to find an amicable solution”. “Ministry of national food security and Pakistan customs have been sensitised about the issue,” he was quoted as saying in a statement.

Dutch dairy firm acquired majority stake in Engro Foods for $450 million in 2016. The company opposed the duty. Government urged the envoy to restart capacity building sessions for export-oriented small and medium enterprises to make them competitive in the European Union. Hague-based Centre for promotion of imports from developing countries (CBI) used to run training programs for the SME sector in Pakistan. The support was, however, stopped due to budgetary constraints, officials said.

Dagha said the commerce division appreciate the work of CBI, “but it has been observed that CBI has decided not to continue with launching a new program for our textile sector”. Secretary commerce thanked the Dutch government for extending their support to Pakistan for continuation of the generalized scheme of preferences plus scheme and hope that Pakistan would continue receiving their support in this regards as it has helped Pakistan in a significant way in overcoming its economic difficulties. He also requested the ambassador to advise the Dutch government to revise the negative travel advisory for Pakistan which greatly hampers the establishment of gainful partnership between the businesses of both countries.

“Though we are generally satisfied with the overall positive trajectory in our bilateral relations we feel there is a great potential to further enhance our bilateral trade and investment,” Dagha said during the meeting. “We would like to benefit from the Dutch expertise in agro based industry and seek their support in capacity building in the field of water management, agriculture and infrastructure development.”

The secretary said the Netherlands is Pakistan’s fourth largest trade partner in the European Union as well as an important source of foreign investment in the country. Bilateral trade between the two countries crossed the $1.21 billion mark during 2016/17. Trade volume amounted to $1.54 billion with exports $716.18 million and imports $831.18 million in the July-April period of 2017/18.

Secretary commerce said bilateral trade relations have further strengthened with the investment of 420 million Euros by Friesland Campina to acquire 51 percent share of Engro Foods. “This investment was followed by SPAR and Frisian Eggs as they also entered the Pakistani market by establishing joint ventures.”

Dagha said Dutch companies took keen interest in the Pakistani market and the biggest trade delegation from the EU comprising of 38 Dutch companies participated in Expo 2017.

Dutch envoy said Pakistan is a lucrative market for investment and currently several Dutch Companies including Shell, Philips, Unilever, Akzo-Nobel and VEON (parent company of Mobilink) have their operations in Pakistan. Both the countries need to enhance their bilateral relations and further increase cooperation in sectors like agriculture, energy and dairy products, she added.