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Pakistan Today

Published Date: Sep 27, 2017

Commerce sector urges broader national consultation to boost export

The Pakistan export sector is under pressure due to multiple factors that include constraints at national and global level. Hence, joint efforts by all the stakeholders including the government and private sectors were the need of the hour. This should be done through broader national consultation on policy actions aiming to promote growth and to make SMEs the engine of growth. Ministry of Commerce Secretary Younus Dagha said this while speaking at the roundtable meeting on ‘Achieving export competitiveness in Pakistan’ held by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce and the World Bank Group (WBG).
Younus Dagha said that government and its institutions were taking all the possible measures to transform the export-related challenges into opportunities. While acknowledging the need for persistence in relevant policies, especially around the trade, he said that invest in human resource and agriculture sector were imperative to make our products more competitive in the international markets.
He added further that the government was focusing on enhancing bilateral trade and to boost foreign direct investment in Pakistan.
WBG Country Director Patchamuthu Illangovan on the occasion said that the population growth rate was a major impediment to the economic growth.  He said that the private sector in Pakistan must play a role in boosting growth rate over 5 per cent whereas the government institutions had also the important role to play to augment economic growth.
He opined that instead of consumption-led growth, Pakistan should focus on investment-led growth. He viewed CPEC as an important opportunity for Pakistan and said that Pakistan should take advantage of its geographical location, especially around the CPEC projects. Besides, investing and focusing on value chain should be a key consideration for Pakistan.
SDPI Deputy Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmad earlier explained the different dynamics of exports competitiveness in Pakistan and said that to improve the 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 it would be important to evaluate why Pakistan has achieved less than desired results from the Generalised 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 the 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 Varela, of the WBG, during their technical presentation, highlighted that trade was the powerful vehicle of growth since last 30 years 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 the cost of doing business in order to make Pakistani exports more competitive in international markets.
During the consultative meeting, the representatives from the manufacturing sector, exporters and experts from the public and private sector identified a number of areas that were affecting the competitiveness of Pakistani exports and presented their detailed recommendations as to corrective measures.Source: