LAHORE - Federal Minister for Commerce Engineer Khurram Dastgir has said that formal import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) will start in 2015 as work to develop required infrastructure is in full swing.
The Federal Minister was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday. LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari presented the business community point of view while LCCI former Presidents Bashir A Buksh, Iftikhar Ali Malik, Mian Anjum Nisar, Shahid Hassan Sheikh Muhammad Ali Mian and Irfan Qaiser Sheikh also spoke on the occasion.
The Federal Minister said that the import of LNG would help supplement government efforts to mitigate gas shortage in the country.
Citing the examples of China, Malaysia, Indonesia and India, the Federal Minister said that the progress and prosperity would remain a dream without liberalizing the trade regime therefore strenuous efforts were being made to liberalise trade regime of the country. He however, made it clear that all the future Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) would be done would a complete research and a proper homework.
Engineer Khurram Dastgir said that serious efforts were being done to overcome the challenges of extremism and energy shortage. He said that only because of these two issues the country could not get its due place in the international marketplace. He said that the mistakes committed during 1994 to 2013 on the economic front were being rectified through a collective approach and a collective wisdom.
The Minister said that work to generate electricity through coal was in advance stage as it was only way to get rid of costly thermal electricity. He said that the country energy mix would be reversed to ensure relief to the masses.
Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari said that low level of foreign direct investment, inflationary pressures, high mark up rate, foreign & domestic debts, capital flight, budgetary deficit, trade imbalance, high cost of business, circular debt, low tax-to-GDP ratio are few of the issues, we are facing as a nation.
He said that the real worry is that the structure of our imports dominated by oil and consumer goods is not capable of supporting long-term economic growth capacity. 
He said that the government overall approach to trade development should be based on trade facilitation. We have been proposing that export development fund must be spent in this connection but no major breakthrough has been made so far. 
He suggested that TDAP should actively organize trade fairs and exhibitions in such markets which are not fully exploited. For this purpose, some strategic reorientation in the functioning of Trade Development Authority and in the disbursement of Export Development Fund is essential. 
He said that Export Development Fund should be made more aligned with the overall objectives of Strategic Trade Policy Framework.  Special focus should be placed on export-oriented firms that are predominantly small & medium enterprises.  He proposed the creation of country-level and regional FTA/PTA Advisory Councils involving the representatives of private sector and officials of the Ministry of Commerce for exploring all avenues to benefit from such agreements.