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Falling exports PM promises to address exporters’ woes, makes another committee

Falling exports: PM promises to address exporters’ woes, makes another committee

KARACHI: In a bid to arrest declining exports, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his economic team have promised to resolve pressing issues like ‘exorbitant costs’ and constituted yet another committee to recommend measures in a week or two to make the country’s exports competitive in the international markets.

“The committee would submit its set of recommendations after Eid (falling next week),” Miftah Ismail, Board of Investment chairman, told The Express Tribune after PM Nawaz met the business community. The meeting lasted for about three hours.

He said the committee would look into issues being faced by exporters, especially whether the government has room to cut tariffs of electricity, gas and water for exporting industries.

Ismail said the government has overcome the energy crisis for industries, which have remained exempted from power and gas load-shedding for quite a long time now. “Industries are being supplied electricity and gas 24 hours {and seven days a week}. Now, the government would look into ways as to how to cut tariffs,” he said.

The idea of cutting tariffs is to make cost of exports equivalent to regional and international level so that the exporters can become competitive, he said.

The committee is comprised of Ismail, Haroon Akther, special assistant to the Prime Minister on revenue, Muhammad Ali Tabba of Lucky Cement, Fawad Anwar and others.

“The government is striving hard to end power outages (nationwide) by 2018,” he said.

Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Younus Muhammad Bashir who later in the day joined PM Nawaz at the Pakistan Stock Exchange’s Top 25 Companies award ceremony, said “Pakistan’s cost of exports remains 8-9% higher than its regional and international competitors.”

Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India and China are some of the prominent competitors of Pakistan, said Bashir.

Declining exports

The country is continuously facing a downturn in exports since fiscal year 2011.

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the country’s exports have declined by 12.11% to $20.80 billion in fiscal year ended June 30, 2016 from $23.66 billion in the preceding year.

Textiles remained the single largest exporting sector of Pakistan, as it earned 60% of the total proceeds in FY16. However, exports earning from the sector also fell by 7.42% to $12.45 billion in the year from $13.45 billion in the prior year.

Sources quoted the PM as saying that the country has significantly improved railway infrastructure across the country. This improved infrastructure would provide added relief to the exporters in terms of reduction in freight charges.

The Prime Minister directed the Ministry of Commerce to make arrangements for duty free import of additional 5 million bales of cotton in the wake of low cotton exports. The Prime Minister further directed that a proposal in this regard be immediately presented before the Cabinet for approval.

Senator and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman Muneer Kamal, who spoke before PM at the award giving ceremony, presented a rosy picture of the economy and the stock market. PM Nawaz also spoke about how Chinese investment worth $46 billion on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was benefiting the economy.

Sources added that the exporters lauded the economic turnaround and boost in foreign exchange reserves. They said the improved law and order situations have revived their level of confidence in the economy and that CPEC would invite much more foreign direct investment from other nations as well.

Courtesy : Express Tribune



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