By M.M. Alam
Karachi—Tariq Iqbal Puri Chief Executive Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) observing the increase in its per capita income presaged that China would become the biggest importer surpassing EU and USA. He was talking to the office bearers of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).
Emphasizing that KCCI should motivate its members to focus on China he informed that in 2012 Pakistan was planning to participate in twenty expositions that would be held in various regions of China. Stressing that concentration should be more on the Western China he stated that with the completion of KKH this year there would be a huge movement of goods from this side. He told that they were developing extensive export processing zones and Pakistan could create a regional hub by investing there. He said that TDAP was willing to help KCCI in organizing a series of seminars and workshops to create awareness about Chinese and other markets.
Iqbal Puri said that Pakistan needed to focus on countries that were physically, politically and friendship-wise close to it. Informing that there had been growth in trade with Afghanistan, China, Iran, ASEAN, GCC countries & Russia, he said that CIS was also interested in Pakistani vegetables, medicines, cement, leather garments, textiles and sports goods etc. He said that a breakthrough was achieved by exporting mangoes to Japan and by meeting its quality standards and observing timeliness huge quantities could be exported. He also appreciated the efforts of commercial consular in Spain towards augmentation of exports.
Asking KCCI to nominate members for the outgoing delegations Iqbal Puri informed that such visits were planned ten months in advance to have ample time to fulfill various formalities. Commenting on the Expo 2011 he said that Pakistan had been able to create credibility in local and foreign market. He anticipated that Expo 2012 would be better qualitywise that would attract larger number of visitors. He further said that numerous product-centric exhibitions in Pakistan would be held in the cities where that commodity was manufactured.
TDAP chief explained that decline in textile here was caused by the rise in cotton price and European Union’s financial crisis due to which demand for value-added products had gone down. He observed that Pakistan, instead of diversifying, had focused only on USA and EU. He told that two-market centric approach had been changed and now Pakistan was not so heavily reliant on them and exports to those markets had decreased from 67% to 48%. Holding that even non-Muslims had started realizing the benefits of Halal products (that included Halal cosmetics etc. too) was a high volume business in the world, he observed that such exports could run into billions.
Appreciating their endeavors he said that chambers and associations represented business community who was country’s trade locomotive. He acknowledged that trade community had succeeded in achieving $ 25 billion exports though Pakistan was confronted with the most unusual circumstances in its entire history. Maintaining that Pakistan and its businessmen had been very resilient he held that it was demonstrated by export figures that showed a ten percent improvement over the last year’s performance. Emphasizing on promoting small/medium exporters he said that (after two such exhibitions in Pakistan) third women entrepreneurs’ expo would be held in Dubai enabling them reach the foreign market. He said hat TDAP was also striving to give vocational training that would provide skilled people to export-oriented industries. He informed that TDAP team was working on developing a web portal that would prove to be useful for the exporters.
President KCCI Mian Abrar Ahmad speaking on the occasion stated that KCCI was the world’s 8th largest Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He reiterated that Pakistan was facing myriad internal and external challenges including threats, deteriorating law and order situation, power crisis, high cost of doing business and negative image abroad etc. He said that Pakistan wanted trade, industrialization, expansion in exports and not aid. He observed that for 64 years Pakistan received aid and no government had tried to break that scenario. He said that due to its geo-political position West would never allow Pakistan to be economically independent unlike countries like Malaysia. He insinuated that ever since Pakistan had commenced developing Gwadar Port, situation in Baluchistan had started deteriorating. “If we keep on relying on European and American markets the future of Pakistan will be bleak”, he warned.
Mian Abrar said that while continuing trade with EU and USA Pakistan should particularly concentrate on three blocks of the region. He said Pakistan-Iran-Turkey should be reckoned as one block, SAARC as second while Central Asia as third block. Defending the grant of MFN status to India he observed that we were offering a 180 million against 1.3+ billion market. Spurning the critics of Indian non-tariff barrier issue he reminded that Pakistan had suffered perpetually from such barriers imposed by USA and EU’s. Stressing on the importance of increasing trade with China he observed that US students were learning Chinese because they knew where the future markets were.
Advocating that $ 50 billion export was an achievable target, Abrar observed that Pakistan’s export potentials had not been exploited appropriately and for a nuclear-power harboring 180 million people an export of $25 billion was insignificant.
Citing the instance of Vietnam he observed that its population was half of Karachi yet it was exporting (ordinary products like bamboo furniture etc.) worth $ 70 billion and was all set to increase it by 25%. He said that we had not exploited what we have in Pakistan. Stating that Halal food was a big market presently handled by non-Muslim countries he informed that EU was also interested in it. Further speaking of diversifying he said that we should not shy away from engineering sector and agricultural value-added products.