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There is dire need to diversify exports in terms of markets: Ali Hussam Asghar

There is dire need to diversify exports in terms of markets: Ali Hussam Asghar

LAHORE: In order to achieve a sustainable growth rate, there is a dire need to diversify the exports in terms of markets as about 55 percent of Pakistan’s exports go to ten countries namely, USA, China, UAE, Afghanistan, UK Germany, France, Bangladesh, Italy and Spain. The USA has the largest share of exports (16%) followed by European Countries (11%) in total exports.

Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan former Senior Vice Chairman and LCCI SVP Ali Hussam  Asghar after winning Export Trophy at President House Islamabad told this to Customs Today.

Asghar received his export trophy from the President of Pakistan Arif Alvi for achieving a remarkable export growth target of best quality of rice.

He said that there is an ample potential of increasing exports to the other world markets where Pakistan is an underachiever – South America, Africa, Central Asian Republics (CARs) and Russia where the combined share of Pakistan’s exports is less than 10 percent of its total exports.

This can be done by organizing road shows, single country exhibitions, export oriented delegations and exchange of information between the trade bodies of Pakistan and these countries.

The LCCI SVP said in order to capture a larger share in the world trade, Pakistan has to make a strategic shift in the composition of its exports which requires promoting exports of medium/high technology products.

Pakistan’s exports are highly concentrated in few items like textile goods, leather, rice which account for about 70 percent of our total exports.

He stated that there should be special focus on developing Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and Export Oriented Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for technology intensive products like Engineering goods, value added textiles, surgical instruments and sports goods etc.

He said that the EPZs and Export Oriented Special Economic Zones should be equipped with latest facilities like Water Treatment Plants, Certification Labs, One Window Facilitation and Solid Waste Management Land in the Export Oriented SEZs and EPZs should be provided on lease to private sector on concessional rates Export targets should be given to the companies in the EPZ and Export Oriented SEZs.

There should be a penalty for missing the export targets and incentives for meeting/exceeding the export targets.

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.