ISLAMABAD - The federal government is formulating a National e-Commerce Policy Framework to exploit full potential of $600 million e-commerce industry.

Minister for Commerce and Textile Muhammad Pervaiz Malik told National Assembly Friday that online shopping industry in Pakistan is still in its nascent stages, and there are no accurate reports on its statistics. However, he said, as per data of State Bank of Pakistan, the value of e-commerce transactions in financial year 2017 amounted to Rs 6,041 million while the market of electronic commerce is estimated at around $600 million, which is expected to grow to around $1 billion by 2020.

Malik said past few years have seen a rising trend of domestic online shopping despite the insufficiency of required infrastructure for e-commerce in Pakistan.

Ministry of Commerce is working on a policy framework for development of digital trade in the country cognizant of the global developments in digital trade and e-commerce. On a reference moved by Ministry of Commerce, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) directed Ministry of Commerce to frame a comprehensive e-commerce policy after consultation with all stakeholders, he said.

As per directive of PMO, Ministry of Commerce constituted a National Advisory Council (NAC) on e-Commerce and e-Commerce Policy Unit (ECPU) comprising all relevant public and private sector stakeholders. Technical work on various aspects of e-commerce policy would be undertaken by smaller Working Groups. Further, Prime Minister directed the creation of a Policy Board headed by finance minister keeping in view the inter dependencies involved in the policy formulation and implementation framework of the e-commerce policy.

He said the proposed policy will focus on availability and reliability of ICT Platforms, development of supportive financial services regulations, regulatory Framework along with conducive import/export laws and taxation issues.

Answering another question, Minister for Commerce and Textile Muhammad Pervaiz Malik said Germany is the biggest trading partner of Pakistan in the European Union. The bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to 2.42 billion euros in 2016 which is 20.08 percent of total trade with the European Union. Pakistan’s exports to Germany amounted to 1.26 billion euros in 2016 while imports from Germany amounted to 1.16 billion euros. The balance of trade is in favour of Pakistan by 100 million euros. Pakistani products have duty free access in Germany for being a beneficiary of EU’s Special Incentive Arrangement for Good Governance and Sustainable Development. As a result of GSP+, Pakistan’s exports to Germany increased from 928.86 million euros in 2013 to 1.26 billion euros in 2016, he said.