KARACHI - Geographically Pakistan is ideally located for the third country trade and to those countries which are landlocked, said Minister for Defence Production, Rana Tanveer Hussain.

He was speaking as chief guest at the First Global Edible Oil Conference (PEOC) in Pakistan at a hotel here on Sunday.

The Minister complimented the organisers for what he called taking a great initiative to hold this global moot.

Rana Tanveer said he would encourage the country's associations to suggest ways and means to supply end-products like Ghee and cooking oil to landlocked countries which will give Pakistan additional markets for export of end-products.

He also pointed out that Pakistan is a huge market for imports of edible oil and oilseeds. "Our total requirement is around 3.5 million tons per annum," he added.

The Minister was of the view that since "our indigenous production is very slow, Pakistan has to remain dependent on the import of edible oils and oilseeds. The government is undertaking efforts to increase the local cultivation".

He further stated, "our priority crops are cotton, wheat, rice and sugarcane." The government do increase support price for the farmers to grow more cotton, rapeseed and sunflower seed locally, he added.

Rana Tanveer was hopeful that in the time ahead the local production will also increase.

He said, "We are fortunate to have excellent logistics for the import of edible oils, we have seaports - Karachi Port and Port Qasim.

"Gwadar which is the third one, is progressing well and will be a future destination for import of oils."

The Minister said that energy, betterment of law and order and infrastructure are the priorities of the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

To another question, he said PIA is a national organisation and the government is taking steps for its betterment.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said international community should unite to counter threat of low oil prices as it will bankrupt oil importing developing countries before the oil-rich nations paving way for another international crisis.

Pakistan should reduce expenditure, enhance exports and focus on value-addition as well as innovation otherwise it will not be able to thwart default even with the help of IMF, it said.

According to experts, oil exporting countries are running large budget deficits while Saudi Arabia having over 700 billion dollars in reserves can default by 2020 if the prices of oil remained subdued.

Realising the threat all the oil exporting countries are cutting expenditure and subsidies, enhancing taxes, downsizing state-run and private organisations and planning to slap tax on remittances which is a threat for countries like Pakistan dependent on worker remittances.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that Pakistan exports stands at 24 billion dollars while imports are double than that and the deficit is covered largely by remittances which were almost 19 billion dollars in 2015. Workers are being fired in oil exporting countries which will reduce remittances and increase unemployment as well as poverty in Pakistan unleashing serious balance of payments crisis.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman sold oil worth 500 billion dollars in 2013 and the figure is slipped now to 150 billion dollars. These countries are not ready to tolerate remittances worth 100 billion dollars in a situation where only Saudi Arabia is facing a deficit of 100 billion dollars.

Pakistan receives 30 percent of its remittances from KSA which is in deep trouble therefore policymakers should try to find out a solution before it is too late, said Dr. Mughal.