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Daily Times

Published Date: Sep 27, 2017

Commerce Secretary stresses joint efforts to boost export competitiveness

The export sector of Pakistan is under pressure due to multiple factors, including constraints at national and global level, said Commerce Secretary on Tuesday.
Speaking at a roundtable on ‘Achieving export competitiveness in Pakistan’ held by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce and The World Bank (WB), the secretary said that joint efforts by all the stakeholders, including the government and private sector, were need of hour.
“This should be done through broader national consultation on policy actions aiming to promote growth and to make the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) the engine of growth.”
Dagha said that the government and its institutions were taking all possible measures to transform the exports-related challenges into opportunities. While acknowledging the need of persistency in relevant policies, especially around the trade, he said: “Invest in human resource and agriculture sector is imperative to make our products more competitive in the international markets.” He added that government was focusing on enhancing bilateral trade and boost foreign direct investment in Pakistan. Speaking on the occasion, WB Country Director Patchamuthu Illangovan said that the population growth rate was a major hurdle in economic growth. He said that the private sector in Pakistan must play a role in boosting growth rate over 5% whereas the government institutions should also an important role to augment economic growth.
He opined that instead of consumption-led growth, Pakistan should focus on investment-led growth. He viewed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as an important opportunity for Pakistan and said that Pakistan should take advantage of its geographical location, especially around the CPEC project. “Besides, investing and focusing on value chain should be a key consideration for Pakistan.”
Earlier, SDPI Deputy Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmad Deputy Executive Director SDPI explained different dynamics of exports competitiveness in Pakistan and said that to improve competitiveness of Pakistan’s exports; both public and private sector would need to collectively find out solutions. “These may include regulatory constraints faced by businesses, rising cost of doing business in several key sectors and anti-export bias seen in the prevalent tax and tariff structure.”
He said that limited entry of Pakistani enterprises in global value and supply chains, insufficient trade facilitation measures as well as lack of synchronised support from various government bodies at federal and provincial level, uncertain availability of export credit for small and medium enterprises, and exchange rate regime – which is not based on economic fundamentals – were the key areas to be worked on.
He said that it would be important to evaluate that why Pakistan had achieved less than desired results from the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) plus status allowed by the European Union, and several bilateral and regional trade agreements with partner countries including China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
“Likewise, focusing on export of services instead of just goods would also be important as the services sector Pakistan can quickly become part of the regional value chains given the endowment of a young labour force. The government should consider strengthening Service Export Development Strategy as part of the overall Strategic Trade Policy Framework of Pakistan,” he concluded.
Nadia Rocha and Gonzalo J Verala of the WB, during their technical presentations, highlighted that trade was powerful vehicle of growth for developing countries. They highlighted that Pakistan was unable to utilise its trade potential and hence, it was high time to take key policy initiatives to reduce high tariffs as well as cost of doing business in order to make Pakistani exports more competitive in international markets.Source: