Export target for 2015-18 fixed at $35b

Mian Arshad

Islamabad—Eng Khurram Dastgir Khan, Minister for Commerce, Tuesday said that government in its Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2015-18 has fixed a realistic and achievable export target of US $ 35 billion.
The minister, highlighting main features of the STPF 2015-18 policy at a press conference here said, “The main focus the new policy would be on competitiveness, efficiency driven and innovation driven economy and increase regional trade, besides facilitating the exporters.”
Product sophistication, diversification, market access, institutional development, strengthening and trade facilitation have been declared as the four main pillars of STPF 2015-18.
“The policy had to be launched in June 2015, however, it could not be launched due to a number of inevitable reasons” said the Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan adding, this was why a rational and realistic export target had also been fixed.
A well placed source told Pakistan Observer that Rs 6 billion were allocated for export oriented incentives for exporters in the annual budget for the current fiscal year, however, due to the delayed announcement of the trade policy, the said amount could not be utilized so far. Moreover, a total amount of Rs 14 billion had been lying unutilized with Export Development Fund because the exporters had not been provided with the said incentives.
However, the Minister said that with the announcement of trade policy, the exporters would start getting benefits out of the announced incentives. When asked about the rationalization of export target under the new trade policy, the Minister said that a number of finished products sectors, that had been lying unexplored, had immense export potential and through this policy, those sectors would be activated.
For example, he said that pharmaceutical sector had tremendous potential of exports but there was not a single World Health Organization certified national lab, which had hindered Pakistani products exports to international markets.
Therefore, he added that government would focus on establishment of internationally certified labs and other facilities for the promotion of our exports of value added products.
He named Lather, pharmaceutical, fisheries and surgical instruments sectors with higher export potential adding that these sectors could lead to a quantum jump in total exports.
“In order to further boost export in these sectors, matching grant will be provided up to a maximum of Rs. 5 (five) Million for specified plant and machinery or specified items to improve product design and encourage innovation in SMEs and export sectors of leather, pharmaceutical and fisheries. Moreover, a Common Facility Center for surgical sector will be established” he added.
Minister said that trade policy framework has been formulated through an extensive consultative process spanning over almost a year.
All stakeholders in the public and private sector including Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, district Chambers, trade associations, private businesses, academia, think tanks, trade missions, Ministries and other government agencies were actively engaged.
Highlighting the main objectives of trade policy he said that improve export competitiveness, transition from ‘factor-driven’ economy to ‘efficiency-driven’ and ‘innovation-driven’ economy and Increase share in regional trade were the main objectives of the new trade policy.
“To develop the export sector and achieve the above targets, some key enablers are vital to increase productivity and competitiveness and resultantly enhance exports. The key enablers are categorized into four groupings i.e. Competitiveness, Compliance to Standards, Policy Environment and Market Access” he observed.
He added that MoC would continue working on its three-pronged strategy of trade diplomacy in the multilateral, regional and bilateral arenas for increasing market access.
He announced that under new trade policy a taskforce to conduct expeditious work on improving railway services for exporters would be established.
The cost of transport through roads is twice as uncompetitive as compared to rail and 148 times uncompetitive as compared to inland navigation. Accordingly, a task force will be established with its Secretariat in the Ministry of Water & Power.
Moreover, he said that a short term export enhancement strategy had also been made part of the STPF 2015-18, wherein, four products namely Basmati Rice, Horticulture, Meat and meat products and Jewelry would be focused in the four chosen markets namely Iran, China, Afghanistan and European Union.

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