Karachi, April 02, 2014 (PPI-OT): Honourable MR. KHURRAM DASTAGIR KHAN, FEDERAL MINISTER FOR COMMERCE
MR. S.M. MUNEER – Chief Executive, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan-TDAP
Mr. Tahir Khaliq, Mr. Zubair Motiwala, Mr. Haroon Farooki, Mr. Anujm Nisar- Former Presidents and Vice Chairman – BMG
Managing Committee Members
Eminent Businessmen and Industrialists
Representatives of print and electronic media,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Before initiating my speech, I would like to congratulate and appreciate the present government for introducing several reformative steps for the benefit of the business and Industrial community, on behalf of our business leader, Mr. Siraj Kassam Teli and our President, Mr. A. Abdullah Zaki who are out of country due to their prior important business engagements.
It is indeed a great pleasure for us to welcome this afternoon, the Honorable Federal Minister for Commerce Mr. Khurram Dastagir Khan, Mr. S.M. Muneer Chief Executive, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and their colleagues at Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry to meet the Leadership, Office Bearers and Business and Industrial Community Members to exchange views for promotion of trade and industry and seek ways and means to boost the economic growth of the country.
You will be glad to know that Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) is the premier and the largest Chamber of Pakistan, which has over 19000 members, extending affiliation to 7 Industrial Town Associations of Karachi.
This Chamber has been playing an active role in strengthening the foundation of business community to effectively meet the challenges of today and tomorrow and to promote trade and industry, while maintaining its distinction of 8th largest chamber of the world and leading Chamber in Pakistan and the Sub-continent.
Like the entire nation, the business community is also proud to witness the shrewd decision of the present government in choosing a high caliber and foreign qualified person, like your honour, for the slot of Minister of Commerce who holds great courage and has the capability of taking bold-decisions in leading the nation in right direction and to promote trade and industry.
At this occasion, I take liberty to say a couple of words and highlight few important issues related to trade and Industry. It is a well thought decision that the government has planned to restructure Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP). I hope that TDAP would now work even more closely with the business community and KCCI to promote trade.
In the past, KCCI have faced difficulties in dealing with TDAP with respect to participation in exhibitions and trade promotion activities. In the last year’s Expo Pakistan, KCCI was provided with a partition for the B2B meetings but there was much noise of music and public which created a lot of discomfort to the businessmen to communicate.
I also want to share that some committed subsidy claims of KCCI are stuck with TDAP in lieu of previous My-Karachi exhibitions. I humbly request your Excellency to order the early release of these pending payments to KCCI as per agreement.
KCCI is planning to organize an Exhibition in India next year for which we request the government and TDAP to help and facilitate KCCI to make this exhibition a success.
Moreover, a mega international event of Expo Milano 2015 is just around the corner. KCCI holds a pretty good experience of managing trade delegations in international trade events. Therefore, I request the honourable Minister of Commerce to give KCCI an opportunity and provide the support to KCCI to organize and lead the delegation to participate in the event of Expo Milano 2015 to be held in Italy.
It is encouraging to know that initiatives have been taken by the Ministry of Commerce to induct a new lot of professional and competent commercial consular’s to project Pakistani goods in regional and international markets especially in new ones such as South Africa and ASEAN.
In this regard, KCCI has been facing lack of cooperation from many consulars with regards to many issues like showcasing products, organizing exhibitions and in resolving specific trade or visa related problems of business community.
I congratulate honourable minister for taking this step and recommend making sure that these consular have the prerequisite knowledge of investment, business and international trade activities so that they are well capable to represent Pakistan and contribute towards business and trade promotion from Pakistan.
Pakistan is a very blessed country having a very fertile soil and abundant water supply. We are rich in mineral and other resources. A country having all these elements should be growing by leaps and bounds.
Pakistan is the 5th largest dates’ producer and 7th largest wheat producer in the world. We are 3rd largest rice exporter in the world. But this is just the beginning as our agriculture yields are very low while pre and post-harvest losses are also very high. The production yields in Pakistan are 13% to 50% lower than the world average yields.
Making Pakistan a prosperous country is not impossible and we have several examples of other countries like Vietnam and South Korea which have made significant progress by implementing growth oriented policies. By proper planning and adopting advance technologies we can overcome all our economic woes.
We get around 50mn tons of Milk where we rank 2nd highest in Buffalo milk and 3rd in Goat milk production. There is still immense potential to improve livestock quantity and quality through proper planning and using modern farming techniques. Good quality imported animal may be brought in and modern farms may be established in different parts of the country particularly in the northern areas.
Having a very fertile soil, we are able to grow all sorts of fruits, flowers and vegetables which is evident from the fact that we were able to successfully grow cherries, strawberries and tea in different parts of Pakistan.
Currently we are importing flowers from Holland through Dubai which can also be grown in Pakistan. It is recommended that Agricultural Zones should be established across the country. Forming Agricultural Development Authority in Pakistan would help in boosting economic growth, earning foreign exchange, alleviating poverty and unemployment, and reducing trade deficit.
We have one of the world’s largest salt mine at Khewra and many coal mines including Thar, Lakhra and Sonda Jharak coal reserves of more than 175.5 Million Tons, huge reserves of Gold and Copper at Reko Diq and around 342 million barrels of recoverable oil and 23 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves. We have 64 types of marble in our country and many precious and semi-precious stones.
Pakistan’s Gwadar port is the world’s largest deep sea port, however, we need to further develop all the ports of Pakistan to enable them to handle bulk of cargo efficiently. The road network and other related infrastructure also needs to be upgraded to smoothly channelize the goods from the ports. Pakistan is very strategically located where it has strong potential to develop transit trade between the landlocked countries and the world.
It is very unfortunate that Pakistan, despite being a highly blessed nation struggles on the *economic front. The main problem with the economy is the management of twin deficits – Fiscal and Trade deficits.
To manage the fiscal deficit, the tax system needs to be reformed and expenditures should also be managed carefully. Boosting exports is very important to manage the trade deficit. We recommend that the government should establish export promotion council which would project Pakistan’s Image as a reliable supplier of high quality goods and services.
The council would encourage and monitor the international standards and specifications of exporters in particular and keep up-to-date information of export trends and opportunities in general with a view to expand and diversify the exports to a country.
To improve the economic conditions policies and measures should focus on a conducive business and investment climate, building a strong infrastructure, efficiently utilizing the available resources, plugging the missing links in the value chain.
Security to human lives, public and private properties must be ensured, and strategies should be implemented to develop technologies and skill sets. To achieve the desired results it is necessary to take all the stakeholders on board for devising a growth plan for the country
I also want to congratulate the government on attaining the GSP+ Status which became applicable from Jan 1st, 2014. The GSP+ status is valid for 10 years, subject to review by the EU after three years. Under the status, almost all of the products of Pakistan’s export interest would be entitled to duty free or preferential treatment.
However, there are some criteria that Pakistan must adhere to in order to remain in the GSP Plus for the full 10 years, the implementation of the 27 core conventions relating to human and labour rights, environment and good governance.
Moreover, we have not yet been able to properly exploit this opportunity due to lack of support to exporters, cost constraints and infrastructural problems. All these issues require an urgent roadmap to overcome the impediments and to better utilize this immense potential.
The issue of granting non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) or MFN is very much in the limelight these days and I appreciate that the Minister of Commerce has been very vocal in highlighting the issues.
Commerce Ministry, in its negotiations with India, is trying to ensure that Pakistan’s exports to India are facilitated. In this context, the effort is to successfully persuade India to reduce tariffs on principal items of Pakistan’s export interest as well as reducing and eliminating Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) towards Pakistani exporters.
In this regard, the business community should be taken onboard on the on-going developments. Pakistan may also negotiate transit trade route to landlocked countries namely Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh through India. I hope that this issue will be resolved in a favourable manner leading to improved trade on equal grounds without hurting the domestic industries in any way.
We admit the fact that the current government has placed economic revival at the top of its list and several measures have already been taken to improve the overall situation of the country, which have started to bear fruit. However, there are still some major economic and business concerns which need to be resolved.
Exim Banks should be established to facilitate trade transactions. The tax structure and procedures needs to be simplified along with stringent measures leading to increasing the tax base. Taxes should be rationalized as some sectors are exposed to disproportionately high rates like in case of motorcycles and auto spare parts sectors.
High and increasing cost of production makes local industry face tougher competition. Electricity and gas shortfalls also create uncertainty and add to the cost of production. Efforts are needed to ease off the unnecessary cost burden so that the businesses flourish and they are able to boost exports.
High borrowing costs hampering private sector investment. The discount rate should be significantly reduced to stimulate economic activity. Law and order has remained a major issue for the business community due to which the productivity gets affected and sometimes export orders are not met in time. Transport facilities are in a precarious situation for which we need to improve the system of cargo trains and shipping for efficient transport of goods.
I have great hope that the present Government shall take all necessary remedial measures on a war-footing level on the points raised by me to take out the country from the morass of present economic crisis as their resolution will not only prove milestone in economic stability but also provide opportunities to overcome the unemployment in the country.
In the end, I once again express my sincere thanks to the Honourable Federal Minister for Commerce Mr. Khurram Dastagir Khan and his entire team for being with us today. My thanks are also due to the Vice Chairman of BMG and former Presidents of KCCI, the participants and persons of Electronic and Print Media.
With these words I conclude my speech and Pray for Stable, Peaceful and Prosperous Pakistan.
Thank you all of you.
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