ISLAMABAD  - A seminar on revamping the mechanism of trade dispute resolution was held on Thursday with focal theme of drafting trade resolution legislation.

The Trade Dispute Resolution Organisation (TDRO), Ministry of Commerce, organised the seminar along with Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industries (RCCI). The importance of participation of all stakeholders, especially importers and exporters was also stressed upon.

Syed Ahmed Mashadi, President RCCI gave his welcoming remarks to the participants. He aptly underscored the importance of having an established trade dispute mechanism and legislation. Mashadi’s remarks were followed by the keynote address of the event’s Chief Guest, Azhar Ali Chaudhary Additional Secretary Ministry of Commerce. He correctly pointed out that trade dispute resolution lies in grey areas afforded by law, as opposed to black and white. He explained further that trade disputes arise mostly out of issues in quality of goods. Moreover he stressed that such disputes tarnish the image of Pakistan abroad. Hence he lauded the role of TDRO as being a step in the right direction.

Ms. Roubina Taufiq Shah, DG TDRO gave a detailed and informative presentation regarding the mandate and scope of the organisation. Her presentation was based on credible statistics collected by TDRO through surveys stretching across 173 countries. She pointed out that success in the arena of trade dispute resolution is contingent upon participation of business persons.

Her presentation was followed by talks and presentations of several eminent citizens and Government officials which included M. Owais Khan, Programme Officer (Business and Trade Policy) ITC, EU TRTA II programme who gave a talk on the role of technical assistance in advancing Alternate Dispute Resolution. His presentation was based on several credible case studies from the world over. Ali Salman, Founder and Executive director of Prime institute touched upon the importance of contract as the primary institution of trade. He gave a well thought out analysis of how markets may morph into mafias if allowed to continue without government interference. Salman’s talk was followed by a presentation of SAARC arbitration council by Malik Imran Ahmad, Deputy Director at the council. Isfandyar Wali Khan, Barrister-at-Law, VP (KPK) touched upon the subject of institutionalising mediation in trade bodies and chambers of commerce.

The last talk was delivered by senior Supreme Court lawyer, Anwar Mansoor Khan who is also the Vice President at National Center for Dispute Resolution (NCDR). He eloquently explained that the main problem with dispute resolution lies in the sluggishness of Pakistan’s judicial system. He explained further that in order for disputes to be resolved, the judicial system needs to adopt nimbleness and agility in matters of justice.

His talk was followed by a question and answer session in which businesspersons engaged in a lengthy debate with government officials and other eminent professionals. The crux of the debate was that the success of a trader is heavily contingent upon his/her adeptness with laws, regulations and rules.