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Role of business community is crucial for economic uplift of the country: Khurram Dastagir

Lahore, March 08, 2016 (PPI-OT):Role of business community is crucial for economic uplift of the country which is highest priority of the present regime. Government is focusing to provide best business atmosphere and joined hands with the private sector to improve trade and industry and exports.

This was stated by the Federal Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan while talking to the LCCI Senior Vice President Almas Hyder and Vice President Nasir Saeed here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Former LCCI President Mian Anjum Nisar, former Vice President Aftab Ahmed Vohra and Executive Committee Members were also present on the occasion.

To a question about Pak-Afghan Transit Trade (PATT), the Federal Minister said that through land port authority and modern technology at Torkham and Chaman borders, trade would be regulated to stop informal trade. Federal Commerce Minister said that government has opened all economic areas to achieve the goals of economic growth. He urged the private sector to become proactive to meet international standards and better marketing of products to compete effectively.

He said businessmen should identify hurdles in the way of value addition of products and share with government to address problems. He urged businessmen to explore the untapped markets of which offer good potential for improving trade and exports.

He assured that government would provide infrastructure and play the role of facilitator while entrepreneurs have to take the lead to improve trade and exports and the economy. He said that government is committed to overcome all economic challenges in cooperation with all stakeholders including businessmen and the civil society.

Khurram Dastagir Khan said that said role of entrepreneurs is crucial to improve trade, exports, tax revenue and jobs and government is focused on providing cheap and affordable electricity to business and industry. He said that work on a number of power projects is well under way and energy crisis would be solved after completion of these projects. He said that transparency is being ensured in all projects.

Speaking on the occasion the LCCI Senior Vice President Almas Hyder said that macroeconomic indicators are showing consistent improvement. In contrast to that Pakistan’s exports are continuously falling. He said that it is important to identify its reasons and rectify them to improve the export performance and ranking.

He said that in the list of countries by exports per capita, Pakistan is at 128th place. Sri Lanka and India that are at 102 and 110 places respectively. Trading Across Borders is one of the factor of Ease of Doing Business Index and under this head our ranking has gone further down to 169 as compared to 108 during previous year.

Almas Hyder said that the industry retains almost 22% in GDP composition of Pakistan economy but it contributes around 50% in tax revenue. It is tax overburdened and other sectors must share the burden. We have to target investors simultaneously from USA, Russia, Southeast Asia, Japan and China.

He said that the most recent trade figures show that there is 14% decline during July – Jan 2015 – 16 as compared to same period last year. He said that government must target further penetration into traditional markets and establishment of new connections to non-traditional markets.

The LCCI Senior Vice President said that our exports need to be re-aligned especially increasing its proportion in favour of engineering products. He said that engineering industry is almost 60% of global trade whereas these items hardly contribute less than 1% in Pakistan’s exports. We have to come up with new plans for technology acquisition and put greater emphasis on indigenization.

Pakistan is bestowed with sufficient human resource having a large number of young, professional and highly trained manpower. He said that we should export human after proper training that would at least double the foreign remittances to Pakistan. “We do not fear to compete with India but government must ensure level playing field including compatible duty structures, subsidies, input costs and non-tariff barriers etc”, Almas Hyder said.

Pakistan has signed Free Trade Agreements with Sri Lanka, China, Malaysia, Afghanistan and South Asian Countries (SAFTA) and Preferential Trade Agreements with Iran, Mauritius and Indonesia but our export performance with these countries is dismal.

He said that in last two years, the share of Pakistan exports to SAARC countries has also decreased from 14% to 13%. In next 15-20 years, the share of regional trade will reach to 50% of World GDP. He said that increase in bilateral trade with Iran is need of the hour. There is a lot of demand for our textile products including T-Shirts, Denim Jeans, Home Textiles and meat.

Almas Hyder said that we have to improve our road, rail, sea and air networks with Iran to fully avail this golden opportunity. He said that after attaining GSP+ status, Pakistan’s exports to EU have increased by 20% but still a lot of efforts are required. Your ministry should aggressively publicize its benefits to all the sectors.

He said that the size of global Halal Food industry is dollar 3 trillion. Pakistan is a natural hub for halal food industry but our share is negligible. Pakistan can only obtain marginal value of exports because our airlines do not have enough capacity to transport the perishable goods.

He said that Wakhan had been used as an ancient route. The construction of proposed route from Wakhan to Afghanistan through Chitral will have prudent effects on Gwadar Port project. This corridor must be explored by engaging key players of region as it can serve as a shorter and alternative route to Central Asian Republics.

The LCCI Senior Vice President said that WTO Cells used to be fully operational and active in Ministry of Commerce and other P and D departments etc. There is hardly any participation of private sector in these cells. He said that ministerial sessions with Kenya were held without a broad-based participation from private sector. Moreover, Pakistan ratified trade facilitation agreement without consulting private sector.

He said that Pakistan Land Port Authority still has not been made operational. It should be operated under public private partnership with 50% board representation and Chairman from private sector. Trade policy for 2016-18 has not yet been released. I would request that this policy should now be issued after incorporating our suggestions.

For more information, contact:
Shahid Khalil
Information Department
Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)
Lahore -54000, Pakistan
Tel: +92-42-111-222-499
Fax: +92-42-36368854
Website: www.lcci.org.pk

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