KARACHI: Chairman of Karachi Chamber’s Trade Development of Exports & Halal Food Sub Committee, Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan has advised the government to adjust the Research & Development (R&D) claims, Customs Refunds or any other outstanding claim in the utility bills of relevant exporters/ industrialists.
He said that keeping in view the liquidity crunch being faced by the government, these claims could be adjusted in the form of utility bills including gas and water bills whereas they can also be adjusted in duty or any other taxes on imports. Agha Shahab further suggested purchase of industrial state land or raw material for exporters to adjust these claims, which will certainly ensure substantial economic growth for the country.
Agha Shahab gave these suggestions while presiding over the first meeting of KCCI’s Trade Development of Exports & Halal Food Sub-Committee. President KCCI, Abdullah Zaki, Senior Vice President KCCI, Muffasar A. Malik, Former SVP KCCI, Shamim Ahmed Firpo, Advisor of Trade Development of Exports & Halal Food Sub-Committee, Jabbar Dalal, Senior Vice Chairman of the Sub-Committee, Qamar Raza Shaukat and other Managing Committee members also attended the meeting.
President KCCI, Abdullah Zaki, on the occasion, stressed the need for making extraordinary efforts to enhance exports of the country. He hoped that keeping in view the extensive experience of Agha Shahab, the performance of Trade Development of Exports Sub-committee is likely to improve and this important sub-committee of the chamber continues to play a vibrant role in extending wide-ranging recommendations on how to further improve and accelerate the pace of Pakistan’s exports.
Abdullah Zaki, while touching upon some of the salient features of the forthcoming KCCI Export Trophy Award 2011-2012 & 2013, said that KCCI Export Trophy Awards for Karachi based exporters will certainly be staged in a striking and eye-catching manner. KCCI will strictly adhere to merit in deciding the winners of this highly prestigious award. KCCI Export Trophy Awards will not only be awarded to leading exporters but even small exporters who are exporting goods to unexplored markets or exporting unique goods have equal chances of winning these awards, he added.
Commenting on the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2012-2015, Agha Shahab opined that STPF focuses on promoting regional trade and regulatory changes, besides facilitating agro based exports, revamping export promotion agencies, increasing green export, enhancing role of women in exports and perusing product and market development and diversification.
He advocated the need for periodical review and changes in trade policy in order to maintain pace with the increasing interdependence of world economies and flow of goods and services across borders. He also expressed concerns over Pakistan’s shrinking market share in international markets which was mainly due to the lengthy and complicated procedures in running businesses across Pakistan.
“We have to change various policies according to the change and pace of global economy as sticking to the same old way of doing business is unrealistic. We have to change our way of thinking and plan according to the varying export patterns of current market environment”, he added.
Agha Shahab, while identifying some of the key hindrances in way of Pakistan’s exports, said that Pakistan’s competitors have established one window operation to facilitate exporters whereas Pakistani exporters have to deal with multiple agencies. “Different agencies are involved in the implementation of Trade Policy, which creates ownership problem. It takes too long for FBR to implement decisions relating to increase or decline in tariffs or any other measures related to export promotion”, he noted, adding that there is a need to evolve a mechanism that ensures timely implementation of various decisions.
Chairman Trade Development of Exports Sub-Committee, while underscoring the need to enhance the scope of trade policy to small exporters and SMEs, pointed out that the financial funding is retained for some big established sectors who take advantage of such funding at the cost of more deserving and potential sectors. At the same time, the trade policy is not synchronized with other policies, which leads to the duplication of same proposals already implemented by different agencies.
He also expressed apprehension over allocation and release of funds in the previous STPF 2009-2012 in which the finance ministry released Rs1 billion in 2011, Rs2 billion in 2012 and Rs1.27 billion in 2013 but nobody knows what happened to these funds whereas the exporters are still waiting for approval of 6 percent R&D support.
“Pakistan is the 5th largest producer of milk, 2nd biggest producer of salt, 5th largest manufacturer of copper, cultivating some of best citrus fruits and so on but unfortunately our country is not a sizeable player in any of these sectors as the agri industries remain underdeveloped. Moreover, the export performance of seafood, sports goods, leather goods, footwear, gems and jewelry, pharma, surgical goods, carpets, marble, coal, rice and many other potential sectors are also under performing”, he added.
He was of the view that in order to improve Pakistan’s exports, the government must focus on setting up EXIM Bank, Promo Council and agro zones, besides devising strategy for exploring new markets as remaining confined exporting limited products to around 10-15 countries out of more than 200 countries around the world will never pave way for thriving exports. “We only need the right set of policies along with the will to motivate our exporters, which, if provided, will certainly expand Pakistan’s exports”, he added.
The meeting participants expressed deep concerns over the exorbitant charges of freight forwarders and shipping lines. In this regard, it was suggested that the government authorities should be approached for effectively dealing with these shipping lines and freight forwarders by establishing a regulatory body. They also advised KCCI to establish a Monitoring Cell at the chamber which could monitor issues confronted by various exporters and act accordingly. One of the participants stressed the need to effectively use social media for promoting Pakistani goods and services as various social media sites on the internet have become a major source of enhancing exports.
The meeting ended with pledges to keep on striving towards highlighting and resolving issues being faced by Pakistani exporters who have the potential to take the overall export figures to new heights.
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