KARACHI: The government is working on multiple fronts to enter into new markets in order to boost exports, said Commerce Secretary Nawaz Sukhera on Friday.
Addressing a gathering of value-added textile leaders at the Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association, he said the Ministry of Commerce is planning to hold a conference in Nairobi, Kenya on Jan 30 under its ‘Look Africa’ policy.
He said the conference will interlink relevant government departments engaged in export facilitation such as State Bank of Pakistan, Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Board of Investment and commerce ministry on a single stage.
Sukhera further said that around 300 importers of Pakistani goods from across Africa were also being invited. He said the government strongly feels that with robust growth of around 7-8 per cent, Africa is a lucrative export market for Pakistani goods.
Similarly, he also pointed out that the recent visit by Russian trade minister to Pakistan has also paved way for increasing bilateral trade between the two countries.
He explained that the biggest barrier to trade between Moscow and Islamabad was the outstanding barter trade fund of $93.5 million due for the last 30 years. However, he said that Pakistan has now paid the amount which helped rekindle the trade relations.
He added that there are many export markets other than GSP+ therefore Russia, Africa and China are three major new openings.
Unlike in past, when China negotiated with Pakistan over Free Trade Agreement (FTA) at equal level, the new FTA has opened up a large tariff line of 313 items only because Beijing this time treated Pakistan as younger brother, Sukhera claimed. He urged exporters to take full advantage of the new FTA.
He also informed the delegation that government was working on potential collaboration opportunities with the Milan Chamber of Commerce. He said that in a road show, we suggested the Milanese authorities to collaborate with Pakistan and take advantage of the country’s textile sector.
Responding to some of the issues raised by the leaders of the textile bodies, Sukhera said that commerce ministry and the Federal Board of Revenue were working on duty structures.
He agreed that there should be no duty on import of basic raw materials but due to some financial constraints, the government was left with no choice but to maintain status quo. Textile leaders also raised other issues including sales tax refunds, gas shortage, water crisis, and Karachi port’s direct connectivity to country’s highways, effluent treatment plants and enhancing or reviving cotton production on evolving new seeds.
The representatives were of the view that issues confronting export trade are directly related to world compliances and if the federal government fails in removing these bottlenecks, it will not be able to reach world markets.
There was strong demand from business leaders that the federal government should take ownership of big projects such as the K-IV water supply, completion of Northern and Southern Bypass up to port entry etc instead of giving funds to provincial government.
Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2019