ISLAMABAD - The ministry of commerce is waiting for the new government to get approval for five years Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) aimed enhancing trade with other countries and giving incentives to boost exports of the country.

The previous government had not announced the new five years trade policy and left the matter for the next government. The STPF 2016-18 was expired on June 30 this year. "Draft of the policy is ready, which will be presented to the new government after it assumes the charge in next couple of weeks," said an official of the ministry.

He said that it depends on the PTI-led government to bring amendments in the draft of the proposed trade policy.

As like other economic issues, the new government would also face a challenge of control soaring trade deficit of the country. Pakistan's trade deficit has surged to all-time high $37.67 billion during previous fiscal year (FY2018) as imports increased faster than exports. The massive increase in trade deficit has widened the current account deficit to $18 billion during last financial year, which eroded the foreign exchange reserves of the country. The new government would have to increase exports and reduce imports to control the deficit.

Similarly, the government in-waiting would have to sign new trade agreements with other countries to boost the exports. The PML-N government had failed to sign any free trade agreement (FTA) with any country since June 2013.

The previous government had negotiating Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Thailand, Korea and Turkey.

Meanwhile, Pakistan had also negotiated the second phase of the FTA with China. However, the government had not able to sign FTA with any country.

The previous STPF was failed to achieve the results. Pakistan's exports were recorded at $23.2 billion during previous fiscal year. The government under STPF had set $35 billion exports target by June 30, 2018. The exports target announced in the trade policy could not materialize. The STPF had not helped to increase the exports during three years, rather exports continuously declined.

The PML-N government had not addressed the concerns of the business community including currency devaluation, releasing tax refunds and reducing cost of production in last three to four years. However, the government had accepted one of the proposals to devalue the currency after four and half years, which recently helped in increasing the exports.

Major causes of the policy failure are lack of diversification of exports, little innovation and value addition in export goods, insignificant research to know latest consumer needs and failure to find new markets.