ISLAMABAD -  Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Khalid Iqbal Malik has urged the government to make drastic cut in import duty in the forthcoming budget for industrial machinery as it will greatly help in producing high value-added products and improving the country’s exports.

The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has hailed the PM’s Rs180 incentive package for exporters and termed it a positive development as it will help in improving competitiveness of exportable products and boosting the country’s dwindling exports.

The chamber also stressed upon the government to announce similar concessions on import for the overall industry to revive and accelerate industrial activities in the country. Under the package, sales tax, customs duty on import of textile machinery and cotton have been abolished.

ICCI President Khalid Iqbal Malik said that the country’s exports have been on a declining trend for the last three years as they have come down from $25.1 billion in 2012-13 to $20.8 billion in 2015-16, showing a reduction of more than 17 percent. This happened despite the grant of GSP Plus facility to Pakistan by the European Union, he added.

He said unlike Pakistan which experienced monthly declines in export values almost continuously since December 2013, exports from India, Bangladesh, Taiwan and Vietnam have rebounded in the past few months which showed that many internal factors caused fall in the country’s exports. He said Pakistan’s market share of global exports has also declined from 0.16 percent in 1990 to 0.13 percent.

He said according to World Bank Report 2015, Pakistan was the second lowest country in South Asia after Afghanistan in terms of exports of goods and services as its exports share in GDP was just 10.6 percent compared to China’s 22.1 percent, Sri Lanka’s 20.5 percent, India’s 9.9 percent and Bangladesh’s 17.3 percent. This situation required urgent remedial measures on the part of the government to arrest this discouraging trend.

Khalid said it was encouraging that the government has reduced power tariff for the industries from Rs15-16 per unit to Rs11 per unit, but it was still insufficient and further reduction was required to bring down the high cost of doing business in the country. He said that due to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, local industry badly needed to upgrade its machinery and technology to compete effectively, but almost 28 percent cumulative duty on the import of industrial machinery including steel and other industries was a major hurdle in these efforts.