ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will start exporting mobile phones in January 2022, Commerce Adviser Razak Dawood said on Tuesday.
In a testimony before the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce chaired by Senator Zeeshan Khanzada, the adviser said a Chinese company was setting up a mobile phone manufacturing factory in Karachi.
Talking to Dawn following the committee meeting, Mr Dawood said the production of mobile phones has already started in Pakistan. “I am now trying to convince the Chinese to start mobile phone exports from Pakistan. They [Chinese] started production last year and I had given them a target of December 2021. They have assured me that they will begin exports from January 2022 onward,” he added.
To a question if there were any exports targets for mobile phones being manufactured in Pakistan, the adviser said that it is a new product for exports and there is no such target. “Two years ago, no one was even thinking that Pakistan will start exporting mobile phones,” he said.
Regarding Samsung’s operations in the country, Mr Dawood said that initially Samsung had refused to come to Pakistan. “However, later Samsung changed its earlier decision and agreed to come to Pakistan. A joint venture with a local partner is on,” he added. The adviser said he was optimistic about uptick in exports of mobile phones from the country.
In a stock filing last week, Lucky Cement Ltd (LCL) said that its subsidiary Lucky Motor Corporation had signed an agreement with Samsung Gulf Electronics Co, FZE for producing Samsung mobile devices in Pakistan.
Commerce secretary’s absence irks committee
Ahead of the proceedings, members of the committee expressed displeasure over the absence of Commerce Secretary Muhammad Sualeh Faruqui.
Additional Secretary Commerce Mujtaba Memon said Mr Faruqi was in Karachi preparing for Expo 2022. Senator Danesh Kumar said he will not attend future meetings in the absence of the secretary commerce. Senator Fida Muhammad urged Senator Khanzada to write a letter to the Senate chairman regarding the behaviour of secretary commerce.
Senator Kumar and Senator Ahmed Khan walked out of the committee. At the request of the chairman committee, Senator Muhammad brought the members back to the committee. Addressing the committee members, Senator Khanzada said that if this happened in future, he will also walk out with them.
The senators also expressed displeasure over the non-provision of working papers by the Ministry of Commerce in due course of time. Mr Dawood apologised to the committee members on the absence of the commerce secretary.
DG Trade Policy Waqas Azeem briefed the committee that exports targets in the last two programmes were not realistic and hence unattainable. In previous trade policies, the emphasis was on three markets, including China and the EU.
Additional Secretary Commerce Mujtaba Memon apprised the committee that the government has reduced energy rates for industries. Duty and taxes on the raw materials have been slashed too, he added. “We have created new trading partners. Our emphasis on exports in new development sectors other than the traditional sector has also contributed to our exports,” Mr Memon said.
The commerce adviser said the government has not offered any subsidy to the industry in energy. “The sector should be provided electricity at par with the industries of the rival countries. The new DLTL policy is going to be extended to new areas besides the traditional ones,” Mr Dawood added.
He emphasised that Pakistan’s exports were minimal and the country has to look towards new sectors. “We are bringing 11 new sectors including engineering goods, pharmaceuticals, auto parts, fruit and vegetable, meat and poultry which will further improve our exports,” he underlined.
Senator Muhammad Qasim said that some foreign companies were coming to Pakistani waters for seafood which was leaving local fishermen in a nasty situation.
Senator Muhammad raised a question regarding the number of marble and minerals industries in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The commerce ministry should also focus on these areas, he added.
He highlighted that after the merger of integrated areas, people were not being given loans to set up industries. The Senate committee chairman noted that the funding ratio of loans in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) was meagre. For KP, the loan funding rate is one per cent, while for Balochistan it is less than 0.5pc.
The commerce adviser assured the committee that they would solve the mentioned problems while focusing on marble and minerals.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued on Tuesday, the Ministry of Commerce said that Pakistani rice exports were not banned by China. The clarification came after media outlets reported that Pakistani rice was banned by China due to the presence of coronavirus on sacks.
“The issue was discussed during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce. The Chinese government is following strict sanitary and phyto-sanitary protocol measures including checking import consignments for the presence of Covid-19 virus before port clearance.” The Senate committee was informed that Pakistani export consignments of rice were detained for port inspection and detection but were later on release after conformity with the Chinese government’s protocols, the statement added.
Published in Dawn, July 28th , 2021