LAHORE -  Business community has shown their concerns over the country’s increasing trade deficit and urged the government to take local stakeholders in confidence and eradicate unnecessary hurdles hindering the exports and the overall industry.

They said that the textiles sector is the key which can make a difference in either ways. “The quarterly trade statistics suggests that country’s trade deficit is likely to widen in coming months, the government should immediately announce the textiles package as the delay has already hit the textile exports”, said Mian Anjum Nisar, former president Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI). Nisar further said that the textiles sector, the largest exporting sector which after gaining the Generalized System of Preferences for trade Plus status in 2014, is witnessing continues decline due to uneven policies, higher cost of doing business and different taxation issues.

He said that this sector is considered as back bone of the country and the largest manufacturing sector, but it fails to reap the benefits of GSP plus status. Unlike Bangladesh which manages to push its overall exports to $31.2 billion in 2014-15, in which textiles accounts for almost $25 billion. “Pakistan’s largest exporting sector after touching $13.8 billion exports in 2013-14 has dropped down to $12.14 billion in the year 2015-16, which is alarming”, he added.

The country’s trade deficit has increased by 8.14 percent to $23.963 billion in fiscal year 2015-16 compared to corresponding figure of 22.16 billion. Even in first three months of current fiscal year, the deficit has widened to $9.31 billion, whereas exports dropped by 6.31 percent to $6.4 billion.

However, Pakistan Industrial and Traders Associations Front Senior Vice Chairman Tanvir Ahmad Sufi said that imports are saving local industry and the government should lower down the duties on important raw materials.

“Pakistan’s economy is being saved by the local industry and government should lower down its tariffs on those imported raw materials which are not available in Pakistan”, said Sufi.