Lahore              -       The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry has urged the government to allow 24/7 industrial operations with standard operating procedures (SOPs) to let industry grow to fetch export revenues and overcome unemployment challenges.

While talking to a group of industrialists, LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that though coronavirus has shattered the economies of entire world but post corona era would bring opportunities, particularly in exports sector, at a vast scale.

“We have to add to our industrial production”, Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said and added that industry would leave no loophole to implement SOPs and safety measures set by the government. He said that allowing 24/7 industrial operations would be a wiser decision as industrial sector was the main victim of coronavirus situation.

The LCCI president said that it is the industrial sector that can reduce the affects of shocks to the national economy due to coronavirus therefore government should support the industrial sector.

While calling for an immediate strategy for post-COVID-19 international arena, Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that there is a dire need to diversify the exports in terms of markets as about 55 percent of Pakistan’s exports go to ten countries namely, USA, China, UAE, Afghanistan, UK Germany, France, Bangladesh, Italy and Spain. USA has largest share in exports (16%) followed by European countries (11%) in total exports.

He said that there is an ample potential of increasing exports to the other world markets where Pakistan is an under achiever – South America, Africa, Central Asian Republics (CARs) and Russia where the combined share of Pakistan’s exports is less than 10 per cent of its total exports.

This can be done by organizing roadshows, single country exhibitions, export oriented delegations and exchange of information between the trade bodies of Pakistan and these countries.

To capture a larger share in the world trade, Pakistan has to make a strategic shift in the composition of its exports which requires promoting exports of medium/high technology products. Pakistan’s exports are highly concentrated in few items like textile goods, leather, rice which account for about 70% of our total exports.

Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that there should be special focus on developing Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and Export Oriented Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for technology intensive products like engineering goods, value added textiles, surgical instruments and sports goods etc.

He said that the EPZs and Export Oriented Special Economic Zones should be equipped with latest facilities like water treatment plants, certification labs, one window facilitation and solid waste management land in the export oriented SEZs and EPZs should be provided on lease to private sector on concessional rates export targets should be given to the companies in the EPZ and export oriented SEZs. There should be a penalty for missing the export targets and incentives for meeting/exceeding the export targets.

Meanwhile, Director General of Intellectual Property Rights Muhammad Irfan Tarar had a meeting with the LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh on Tuesday and exchanged views on Intellectual Property Rights.