LAHORE: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood claims PM Imran Khan’s visit to Moscow in the middle of the Russia-Ukraine conflict will not impact Pakistan’s exports to Europe and the US, though economists feel the timing of the tour may have sent a wrong signal to the West, but it will have little to no impact on the country’s exports.
“Whenever such a situation develops and creates trade-related problems, you need to understand how we can benefit. But I don’t think this situation will affect our exports (to Europe and the US),” Mr Dawood said on Friday when asked to comment on Mr Khan’s visit to Moscow the same day Russia attacked Ukraine and its impact on trade.
The adviser was talking to the media after his arrival at the Expo Centre here for the first edition of a three-day engineering and healthcare show that began on Friday under the aegis of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).
When asked how the Russia visit is expected to shape up the trade and bilateral ties with Pakistan, the adviser said the country’s total export volume with Moscow was less than $1 billion.
“The good thing is that the door has been opened with Russia and negotiations on such issues have commenced. A meeting has also been scheduled with the Russian trade minister for next week. But the improvement in trade may take around six months,” he explained. “For this, we need to improve our banking system, integrate customs procedures among other measures.”
Says a meeting has been scheduled with the Russian trade minister for next week
On initiating trade with India, Mr Dawood said he personally believed Pakistan should deal with the entire world (including India). He parried a question about a possible no-confidence motion and a long march by the opposition, instead saying the government would achieve its export target of $31 billion for FY2021-22 by June 30 by all means.
When asked how the country’s exports could be increased, the adviser claimed to have adopted an effective strategy to promote geographical and product diversification by opening doors to African and Central Asian countries. “The participation of 300 delegates from Africa in this event reflects our good strategy towards geographical and product diversification,” he stressed.
Earlier, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar inaugurated the first ‘Engineering and Healthcare Show’ that has attracted buyers from 300 African and Central Asian countries to meet businessmen and explore trade potential with the country’s engineering and healthcare sector.
“This initiative will be pivotal in earning valuable foreign exchange for the country by improving the textile sector,” the governor said.
Talking to Dawn, leading economist Dr Sajid Amin Javed from the Sustainable Development Policy Institute said the Russia-Ukraine war and the timing of the PM’s visit to Moscow had probably sent a wrong signal to the West. “But its impact on our exports will be minor since the joint statement issued by the both countries at the end of the visit has largely compensated us in removing this wrong signal,” he maintained.
However, he said, if there was a negative impact, the International Monetary Fund could further tighten conditions on its ongoing programme with Pakistan, as it did after the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.
He believed the conflict could affect the country’s economy through an increasing import bill in general. “For the last many years, we have become a wheat-importing country and largely import it from Ukraine. Moreover, the increasing oil prices will also affect our economy,” he feared.
Eminent economist Dr Hafeez Pasha told Dawn that he did not believe the Russian attack on Ukraine would affect Pakistan’s exports. “This state-level visit was already planned well before the Russia-Ukraine war. Moreover, our PM already said the country will not side with anyone on the issue. That is why, I don’t think it will affect our exports,” Dr Pasha maintained.
Aamir Shafaat Khan adds from Karachi: A Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) official dealing with imports said the entire wheat shipment from Ukraine had reached the country.
Moreover, three ships carrying wheat from Australia and two other countries are arriving in the first week of March and all the vessels had sailed out without any bottlenecks from their respective port destinations, the official said. “Our wheat imports have so far not been affected.”
The TCP and private sector had been importing wheat from Ukraine in bulk along with Russian wheat to bridge the demand-and-supply gap.
Cereal Association of Pakistan Chairman Muzammil Chappal said the government had allowed the private sector to import a million tonnes of wheat in August 2021, but the trade could not materialise due to high prices and a lack of government subsidy.
Ruling out any further import after a massive jump in wheat price to $400 per tonne from $315 ahead of the Russian conflict, Mr Chappal feared wheat and flour crises in anticipation of a 20-25 per cent drop in the country’s wheat crop arriving in March/April.
Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2022