KARACHI: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has urged Zakaria Usman president of the Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCC&I) to impress upon the ministry of commerce (MoC) to accept the membership of any of the chambers of commerce and industry (CC&I) as valid registration and amend the registration clause in the Strategic Trade Policy 2012-2015 to include membership of CC&I as valid registration for exporters of edible products.
President UNISAME has invited the attention of the president FCC&I to the registration clause in the STP which reads as under the caption “registration as edible product exporter”.
“with the objective of monitoring the possibility of abuse, such as drug trafficking and for record purpose, it has been decided that all exporters of food products such as fresh fruits and vegetables, rice etc will be registered with their respective associations and in case of non existence of such an association, mandatory registration of such exporters be made with TDAP.
He said the trade associations are misinterpreting registration as membership and compelling the exporters to become members instead of registering them. In this connection it is very important that the FCC&I takes up the matter with MoC to consider the membership of the CC&I as valid registration to facilitate the exporters who are many times exporting several items and cannot afford to become members or even register with several associations. The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) should also obtain permission to register exporters of edible goods online whether the respective associations of those items exist or does not exist to facilitate exporters of miscellaneous goods to global destinations.
Thaver pointed out that the emphasis in the STP is on keeping record of the exporter and since CC&I gives membership only after acquiring all information about the exporter regarding National Tax Number, National Identity Card (NIC), Income Tax Returns, nature of business and other information and keeps complete record and even when a member applies for renewal the applicant needs to furnish proof of filing of tax return the membership of CC&I be considered sufficient and valid as registered.
UNISAME has urged Zakaria Usman to convince MoC to accept membership of CC&I as valid and sufficient registration as the STP clearly states that the registration is for record purpose and as long as the exporter is on record there seems to be no need to make the exporter become member of several associations. It is high time MoC respects the membership of the CC&I and not disregard the registration of an exporter with the respective CC&I.
However it is pertinent to note that the exporter is welcome to seek membership of as many associations as the exporter deems fit out of his/her own free will. The associations need to attract the membership of the exporter on the basis of the service, guidance, advocacy of the cause of the trade and the facilities they provide to their members and not by compelling them to become members for the sake of income derived from membership.
It should be noted that MoC cannot compel membership as it is unconstitutional and for this very reason, MoC has clarified that they removed the mandatory membership condition of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) on 23rd April 2012 and in the STP 2012-15 they simply made registration mandatory.