ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s total exports are on the upward trajectory and set to reach $24 billion mark this year, predicted a government official.
Speaking at a pre-budget seminar organised by the Express Media Group on Tuesday, Commerce Minister Pervaiz Malik said exports had suffered over the past three years but were set to increase by around $4 billion this year.
The PML-N government achieved the highest export figure $25.1 billion in its first year in office in 2013-14, but exports have been sliding ever since. They were $23.6 billion in 2014-15, and the figure could not cross the $21 billion mark in the following two years.
“Due to the measures taken by the government, exports will touch $24 billion this year. Last month, March 2018, was the first time in three years when exports crossed the $2-billion mark,” Malik said. He added that the recent rupee devaluation was also meant to enhance exports and improve goods’ competitiveness.
Malik said that uninterrupted power supply to the industry had contributed towards reducing the cost of manufacturing in the country, but said more measures were needed to check high costs.
The commerce minister, who was the chief guest at the 2nd session of the day-long seminar, said the government’s focus had been on growth. “Our target [for the next year] is 6.5% growth rate,” he said. “The government wants to ease out taxes on raw materials for SMEs to boost manufacturing.”
He emphasised the need for training skilled labour to join the manufacturing sector. “Another major issue is that many of our industries are out of competitiveness.”
Talking about the ongoing negotiations with China on revised bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), Malik said the government was taking its time to finalise the agreement with China, as well as Turkey, Thailand and Indonesia, to make FTAs actually beneficial for the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2018.