Islamabad ( Khurram Shahzad ) Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser for Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and Investment said that government was working to rationalize tariffs structure and customs duties in the next mini-budget that would be presented in January 2019 to facilitate the growth of industrialization as the current tariffs and customs duties were not favorable for the industry. He said after rationalization of tariffs, government would try to fix tariffs for 3-4 years to provide a clear future roadmap to the industry. He said the new tariff policy would be industrialization-driven and not revenue-driven. He said in the last 10 years, deindustrialization and increase in trading had occurred in Pakistan due to unfavorable policies of the past regimes. However, current government was determined to reverse this process and put the country on the path of sustainable industrial growth. He was addressing the business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Abdul Razak Dawood said that Pakistan was depending on textiles for exports but its share in international market was reducing. He said that a concept note of industrial policy has been developed and new industrial policy would also promote other industries including engineering, chemical, information technology and agriculture to diversify exports. He said that new industrial policy would support strategic industries and strengthen import substitution industries. He said that government has planned to increase exports up to $50-$150 billion by facilitating export-oriented industries. He said that government was planning to enhance exports of motorcycles, refrigerators, air conditioners to Africa and other countries. He said that in principle there should be no duty on import of raw material for manufacturing of export goods. Similarly, there should be minimum duty on intermediaries but finished goods should have no concession.
He said Pakistan had signed FTAs and PTAs with five countries, but except for FTA with Sri Lanka, all FTAs were unfavorable for Pakistan. He said that government was working to revise FTAs with all countries and second phase of FTA with China would be completed by June 2019. He said government was in discussion with many countries including China, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and Turkey to get more market access for Pakistani products. He said Indonesia has provided zero rated market access to Pakistan on 20 items and stressed that business community should take benefit of this concession. He said that government was also working on ease of doing business and cost of doing business to make things easy for private sector. He said Prime Minister has given target to bring Pakistan from current 137 to below 100 in the ranking of ease of doing business. He said his doors were open for business community and chambers/associations should give written proposals to remove hurdles and create facilitations for the private sector.
Speaking at the occasion, Ahmed Hassan Moughal, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that high production cost in Pakistan was a major hurdle in promoting exports. He stressed that government should work on reducing cost of doing business that to make our products more competitive that would help in promoting exports. He said that government was focusing on export-oriented industry to increase exports. However, he said that import-based industry including steel, construction and others should also be supported as these industries were making significant contribution towards generating employment, business & economic activities. He said that government should bring further reforms in TDAP to make it efficient trade promoting agency. He urged that TDAP should prepare market intelligence reports on foreign markets and share them with chambers and associations to enable the private sector to exploit potential opportunities for exports in foreign markets.
Rafat Farid Senior Vice President and Iftikhar Anwar Sethi Vice President ICCI said that representatives of key chambers and associations should be included in the Council of Business Leaders to convey the voice of SMEs to the government. It would help in addressing problems and facilitating better growth of SMEs. They emphasized that government should give export targets to Commercial Sections of Pakistan in foreign countries and make them accountable for not achieving given targets.
Khalid Javed, Mian Akram Farid, Mian Shaukat Masud, Ch. Waheed ud Din, Khalid Chaudhry and others also highlighted various issues that needed urgent remedial measures of the government.