ISLAMABAD: The business community expressed grave concerns over falling exports as they continue to paint an unwholesome picture of the country’s ability to correct its highly skewed balance of trade.
Apathy among bureaucrats in the commerce ministry was, according to a trade body chief, primary deterrent on the road to recovery.
According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the country experienced a trade deficit of $4.8 billion in the first two months of the fiscal year – up $1.1 billion compared to the same period last year – after a steep decline in exports and double-digit growth in imports.
Exports registered a decline of 6.8% in July compared to corresponding month last year. Furthermore, exports fell 10.42% month-on-month for July. Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) suggested the federal government to form and approve a comprehensive plan by taking private sector on board to achieve the trade targets under the recently introduced Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2015-18.
FPCCI Regional Standing Committee Chairman Ahmad Jawad said commerce minister is reportedly facing apathy among the ministry’s top bureaucracy with reference to country’s weak trade performance. Consequently, the progress on the under discussion Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with different countries has been rather slow. Key factors responsible for the decline in exports, as per Jawad’s understanding, include energy crisis, lagging competitiveness, out-dated machinery, weak contract enforcement, inadequate investment growth and constraints in the regional markets.
He said that if government wishes to enhance exports in a short period of time then they should focus on horticulture, rice, halal meat products, gems and jewellery and cement sector.
According to Jawad, the most feasible markets for Pakistan’s horticulture products are the Middle East, Russia, Belarus and Southeast Asia in view of the short shelf life of these products and the government should have given attention to them in the STPF document.
Courtesy : Express Tribune