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LCCI takes special measures to enhance halal food exports: Ali Hussam Asghar

LCCI takes special measures to enhance halal food exports: Ali Hussam Asghar

LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has taken a number of measures to enhance halal food exports as for the first time halal food standing committee has been set up and stakeholders were invited for the input.

The views were expressed by Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar while talking to Customs Today here.

“Work was being done in the direction. Unfortunately, Covid-19 breakout wreaks havoc with all settings. However, we are determined to enhance halal food exports and restart the work once the Covid-19 pandemic ends. We will arrange delegations and for this we have taken commercial counselors on-board,” he said.

Talking about food potential of Pakistan and how it can be explored, he said Pakistan has an enormous unexplored food potential for which rice and halal food are the most appropriate instances.

“Currently, Pakistan’s rice exports stands at $2.1 billion which can be increased to $3 billion provided supply chain is improved on modern lines, i.e. rice transplanters can enhance the yield to a double while rice harvesters can save a significant quantity of rice from breakage besides it is also imperative to work on seed technology as Pakistan extra-long range rice variety.

Research and Development needs to be conducted like the one India is doing to cultivate extra-long range rice varieties. Hybrid basmati comparatively give good yield per acre.

When yield per acre increases cost per acres tend to decrease enabling one to be compatible with competitors. Rice is one of Pakistan’s cash crops and the government needs to work extensively to double the rice output”.

Global Halal food market stands at $1 trillion but Pakistan’s total halal food exports share is not more than $200 million which needs to be increased, he said, adding that to enhance the halal food export from Pakistan, meat development should be undertaken; poultry is another area requiring Innovations.

When asked how has Covid-19 pandemic hit trade and industry and what the government should do to fix the economy after the pandemic crisis end, he said that the government should evolve a comprehensive post-corona economic strategy as the post-corona era would be challenging for the economy of Pakistan.

“The situation, developed due to coronavirus, has caused a huge loss to the industrial production of various countries therefore Pakistan can give a quantum jump to its export once the circumstances came to normal,” he pointed, adding that the private sector should keep close contacts in Central Asian States, Africa and South America while government should support export-oriented industry through resolving their issues so that it can grab the opportunities in true sense of word.

Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela and Chile do not require introduction in Pakistan if discussed under the subjects of trade, geography, culture and ethnicity etc. But in economic scenarios, they carry an inadequate eminence among us.

Answering to question as how has Covid-19 impacted the employment rate in the country and what the government should do to tackle the situation, he said that the impact of Covid-19 will be long lasting a large number of employees have been rendered unemployed and in order to contain unemployment we have to open all the sector under their SOPs and if we don’t do that unemployment will shoot up which will trigger criminal activities and the situation will be difficult to control by the government and it is, therefore, the government should start opening various sectors ensuring the SOPs to be able to overcome the challenging situation.

All the stakeholders, including trade organisations, associations and the chambers should be taken on board in this regard. We want the government to discuss with us in adopting a comprehensive strategy for the future, Asghar highlighted.

Talking about exports, he said that a strong narrative for enhancing exports has been missing in the Federal Budget 2020-21.

“The Budget should be export centric, containing strong incentives for our industry to fetch more export revenues. Before the Budget passed by the parliament, major allocations for the formation of testing labs for our export oriented sectors. There should be a special incentive regime for IT and halal food sectors as both the sectors can play an instrumental role in enhancing our exports,” he suggested.