Alarm: Slowdown in exports worries industrialists’ forum

FPCCI official says exports of almost all countries in South Asia on the rise, barring Pakistan

Our Correspondent December 27, 2016

KARACHI: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Head on Horticulture Exports Ahmad Jawad has said that Pakistan’s decreasing exports could result in a major balance of payments crisis for the country.

In a release issued on Tuesday, Jawad said exports of almost all countries in South Asia are on the rise, but unfortunately the case of Pakistan is opposite. In fiscal year 2015-16, Pakistan’s exports witnessed a 12% decline to $20.8 billion from $23.6 billion. “This is an embarrassing situation for Pakistan given the fact that we had been awarded the GSP Plus status by the European Union (EU) to help boost our exports.”

According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2014-15, Pakistan’s exports remained stagnant at $24-25 billion (and it actually decreased in the year 2016) while Bangladesh’s exports surpassed the $30 billion mark last year and is set to hit the $34 billion mark this year.

The reasons for decreasing Pakistani exports are sluggish growth in Pakistan’s major trading partners namely the UK, US and China and high cost of production due to electricity shortfall and delays in order deliveries because of non-availability of energy inputs.

Among Pakistan’s major exports, rice, cotton, leather, jewellery and the chemical sector have been hit hard by the slump in exports. Given the current scenario of Pakistan’s dwindling exports, a strategy for bolstering them becomes imperative. “One of the primary ways of enhancing exports is to support entrepreneurship and to create new avenues for growth by guiding the youth,” said Jawad.

“The spectacular growth of the US economy has only been possible by promoting the culture of entrepreneurship, which entails taking risks for new ventures and not fearing from failure.

“Similarly, our current export base is mostly limited to basic commodities which include textiles, leather, cotton and other basics for example grains and fruits. We should make a transition from these exports to more value-added items in the global value supply chain.”

Jawad added that Pakistan should identify other export opportunities and inform investors and the public about them so that more people can take part in the value creation process. Similarly, there are many other opportunities available in the supply chain of many finished products like in untapped sector of horticulture which was constantly ignored.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2016.

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