As the country’s exports are constantly on declining trend, All Pakistan Business Forum has asked the government to take business community on board in preparing policies to enhance exports so that fast widening trade deficit could be controlled.
APBF President Mr. Ibrahim Qureshi said the country’s exports declined by 13.26% during the first eight months of the current fiscal year, losing around $2 billion. The exports declined by 4.73 % in February 2016 to $1.791 billion.
He said that trade deficit was surged by 10.68% to 22.09 billion dollar in 2014-15 from 19.963 billion dollar in the preceding fiscal year- the record highest trade imbalance in last over 35 years.
APBF president said the delay in trade is also causing heavy losses to the business community amid acceleration in economic activities. Announcement of policy was due in July 2015, but later got postponed for some unknown reasons. The business community is still waiting for announcement. The expected policies could revive both domestic and foreign trade and may boost exports.
“The trade imbalance in favour of China is highly alarming. Free Trade Agreements signed with some of the countries appear to have been playing a major role for this imbalance…”
He stated that Pakistan’s exports have been stagnant at $24 billion for the last many years. Quoting the figures, he said that during last 30-year period (1980-2011), India’s share of world exports improved from 0.43% to 1.7%; Bangladesh’s from 0.04% to 0.14%; Malaysia’s from 0.74% to 1.34% and Thailand’s from 0.37% to 1.35%. But it is unfortunate that Pakistan’s share remains stagnant at 0.15%.
Mr. Ibrahim Qureshi said that during the fiscal year, imports from China increased sharply to 23% from 17% a year ago.
The record 22 billion US dollar trade gap is happening despite the fact that Pakistan is enjoying preferential access to the EU market under GSP Plus and interest rate is also lower at home while oil prices are constantly declining.
Mr. Ibrahim Qureshi said that Pakistan’s exports base and markets are extremely narrow. More than 55% of its exports earnings are contributed by the cotton group while leather, synthetic made-ups and rice contribute around 14% of total exports. Unfortunately, these items are relatively low value-added products.
Mr. Ibrahim Qureshi said that international image building is the need of the hour, besides formation of new trade specific export promotion agencies having independent budgets and policies, he said. He added that though energy shortage and law and order kept the economy hostage during the last many years, yet the government should have a clear vision on the economic issues, to help resolve the problems of export oriented industry at the earliest.
APBF President urged the government that all stakeholders be taken on board while preparing industry related policies, and asserted that industrial estates be exempted from load shedding of gas and electricity to meet the local market and export targets.
Ibrahim Qureshi said the government should also facilitate the exporters and implement all trade facilitation in letter and spirit enshrined in trade policies.