LAHORE-Advisor to Prime Minister for Commerce and Investment Abdul RazakDawood Saturday assured full support to exporters.

Abdul RazakDawood was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He also inaugurated the Export Facilitation Centre at LCCI. He hoped that LCCI Export Facilitation Centre will contribute in enhancing exports and will provide services to the exporters. He also said that government will safeguard the interests of local IT industry by not signing the ITA (Information Technology Agreement). He said that along with goods exports, Pakistan needs to increase exports of services.

Razak Dawood informed that the government has abolished import duties on 41% industrial raw materials which are more than 1600 tariff lines. 

He said the Ministry of Commerce is working on a three-year plan to rationalize tariff, especially the duties on raw materials. The plan would be finalized in consultation with chambers and associations and will encourage value addition.

Ministry of Commerce is also working on making the process of getting refunds easier for the exporters, he said, adding that the function of setting tariff is now being done by Ministry of Commerce which was previously being determined by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Speaking on the occasion, President of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that LCCI believes in keeping sound working relations with the govt departments, especially the Ministry of Commerce for the betterment of our economy and industry.

The President of Lahore Chamber said that the retail sector has incurred lot of costs and efforts on the development of infrastructure for integration with the FBR’s computerized system for real time reporting. However, the benefit of reduced rate of sales tax (from 14% to 12%) is being provided to limited sectors (i.e. finished fabric, textile and textile made-ups and leather and artificial leather related products). LCCI recommends that all the sub sectors of retail sectors should benefit from the reduced rate of 12%. He suggested that no audit should be conducted for at least 2 years for such retailers who opt for integration under this regime.

He said that the COVID-19 has adversely impacted the Pakistan’s economy which is already facing stiff economic challenges including high debt, devaluation, inflation, fiscal deficit and shrinking of GDP. The industrial sector has also been facing negative growth rate since the last couple of years.

Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said the exports hold great importance for Pakistan’s economy as they are the main source of revenue generation, employment creation and maintaining balance of payments stability.

He said Pakistan’s export products are heavily concentrated in textiles, leather and few other items. There is a need to diversify our exports, especially focusing on potential sectors like Halal food, information technology, engineering industry, surgical instruments, sport goods and pharmaceuticals etc.

He also mentioned the export potential of IT sector, saying that Pakistan has presence of over 5,000 IT companies and call centers and a sufficient number of IT professionals who are also good in spoken English while every year almost 20,000 IT graduates are being produced at national level. There is a great potential of taking our IT exports well beyond the current level of $1 billion.

He further said that there is also an immense potential to enhance Pakistan’s halal food exports as we have abundant availability of livestock. Currently our meat exports are US$ 309 million while the global Halal food market is well above US$ 1 trillion and dominated by non-Muslim countries.

He said that there is a need of collective actions for exploring new export markets as about 55 percent of the Pakistan’s exports go to just 10 countries. We have to take concrete steps to fetch better export revenues from untapped potential markets like Africa, Russia, South America and Central Asia etc.

Realizing the importance of Africa as a potential market, President LCCI said, “We have established an Africa Desk at LCCI for facilitating our members and addressing the issues involved in enhancing exports to Africa”. It is worth mentioning that our exports to Africa are just 1.4 billion dollars while India’s exports to Africa are 29 billion dollars, he concluded.

Senior Vice President LCCI Ali HussamAsghar emphasized to resolve the issues of bilateral trade with Iran. Iran has the biggest import market of Pakistani rice. Government should consider the 5 billion dollar plan of rice export.

LCCI Vice President Mian Zahid Jawaid Ahmed, former Presidents Mian Misbahur Rehman, Shahid Hassan Sheikh, Sohail Lashari, Almas Hyder, former vice president Zeeshan Khalil and Executive Committee members were also present.