President Dr Arif Alvi Thursday said the diversification and value addition of products were a must to achieve higher exports and explore the yet untapped global markets, particularly the African region. Addressing the 4th Export Trophy arranged by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, the president called for use of information technology and artificial intelligence in the agriculture and other businesses to bring more efficiency and profitability.

He said unlike the past, the modern technologies had made it easier for the businessmen to assess the requirements of targeted markets to help design the supply chain accordingly.

He said currently Pakistan’s exports revolved around cotton, wheat, rice and sugarcane, which necessitated the diversification of existing products and investment in modern fields like the information technology.

He told the audience that until 2010, the world’s top 10 companies hailed from the oil sector but currently they had been replaced by the IT (information technology) firms, which manifested the huge scope of the sector. The president, who earlier distributed export trophies among the Lahore-based businessmen for their remarkable contribution in the exports sector, also advised the agriculturalists to think out of the box and consider producing sugar from beetroots to replace the sugarcane which burdened the water resources.

He said the flood irrigation of crops caused huge wastage of rain waters which needed to be mended through modern technology to preserve the natural resource . He said under the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, the government had massively planted olive trees to meet the country’s needs as well as opening up export opportunities. The president particularly advised the businessmen to adhere to the principles of morality, honesty and sincerity in their trade across the globe, which ultimately paid back in the long term.

He said as an initiative to promote Pakistan’s fruits abroad, the President House dispatched mango packs to different heads of state along with descriptive pamphlets. He also asked the business community to support the industry workers and create job opportunities for women and differently-abled people. The president viewed that Pakistan had successfully sailed through the COVID-19 pandemic due to Allah Almighty’s blessings and support extended to the needy ones by the people as well as the government under the Ehsaas Programme.

Earlier, LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said the export trophy was meant to encourage the businessmen to diversify and increase their exports. He thanked the government for extending support to the business sector particularly during the pandemic and also lauded its policies to bring ease of doing business. He said fortunately, the pandemic did not affect Pakistan’s exports as the indicators showed positive growth comparing with the last year.

He, however, urged his fellow businessmen to tap the Halal Food and IT sectors for exports and focus the African region, besides requesting the government to establish export processing zones.