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PR-/89
Ziqaad 14, 1437 A.H.
AUGUST 18, 2016

AWARENESS SEMINAR ON POST STPF 2015-18
Younus Bashir uncertain about achieving US35bilion target by 2018

KARACHI: President of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Younus Muhammad Bashir has said that the challenging export target of $35 billion, which was quite an unrealistic one, was set under STPF 2015-18 to be achieved by 2018 but it looks difficult as during FY16, the exports target of $24 billion could not be achieved due to lack of specific plan in trade policy. Delivering his speech as Chief Guest at a, Awareness Seminar on “Post Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF-2015-18)” organized jointly by Karachi Chamber in association with USAID funded Pakistan Regional Economic Integration Activity, Younus Bashir said, “The on ground result has remained quite disappointing in the absence of a workable plan of action. Therefore, precise realistic targets with timelines should be set up and the progress should be monitored on periodic basis rather than general policy statements.

Asad Hyaud Din, Additional Secretary Ministry of Commerce; Donal Cotter, Chief of Party, Pakistan Regional Economic Integration Activity; Raheela Tajwar, Director General (Trade Policy), Ministry of Commerce; Arsalan Ahmed, Director Trade Policy, Ministry of Commerce; Tayyaba Batool, Senior Trade Policy & Research Specialist, Ministry of Commerce, representatives from State Bank, KCCI Managing Committee members and other stakeholders were present on the occasion.  President KCCI was of the opinion that in order to achieve export targets, extraordinary will, extreme hard work and dedicated efforts were needed whereas events like today’s seminar and constant interaction with the business community was also a must which would surely pave way for achieving such targets. President KCCI further pointed out that the cost of doing business was roughly 9 percent higher in Pakistan as compared to other regional countries as Pakistan was ranked 138th amongst the 189 countries. However, no practical measures have been proposed in the policy to reduce the high cost of doing business.

Younus Bashir said that another serious issue that requires attention was the refund claim of billions of rupees which remain stuck up at the FBR, resulting in causing severe liquidity crunch to export-oriented industries. “To deal with the situation, I suggest that there should be an automated mechanism where these refunds do not get stuck and traders do not face difficulty”, he suggested. He further noted, “Despite securing GSP Plus status, Pakistani exporters have failed to witness a decent upsurge. We have to identify why we have not been able to fully benefit from this facility and accordingly, take corrective measures in order to improve presence of Pakistani goods in European Union”. The primary objective of the new trade policy should be to promote and facilitate exports, by addressing both the supply side problems and demand-related issues and it should be laden with measures for improving industrial efficiency, he recommended.

He said that inconsistency in policies, negative perceptions, high cost of doing business, and security concerns have a major impact on fresh investments, manufacturing and exports. To tackle these issues, a proper road map needs to be put in place which may include long term policies’ plan of action, increased ease of doing business, efforts on image building, traders’ facilitation and transparency, he added. He stressed that it was high time to rethink strategies and seriously focus on ensuring an enabling business environment to the business and industrial community of Pakistan, particularly Karachi city, which was capable enough to pull the country out of ongoing economic crisis and put it back on the path to prosperity.