LAHORE - The structure of our imports, dominated by oil and consumer goods, is not capable of supporting long-term economic growth capacity.

This was stated by Rashid Mehr, the APBF president and the Chief Executive Officer of TUV Austria Bureau of Inspection & Certification, formerly Moody International (Pvt) Ltd.

He called for well thought out trade policy with both short-term and long-term targets. We have to utilize all available options to give maximum projection to Pakistani goods in international markets in best possible manner, he added

He 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.

Rashid Mehr said that these factors do cause inconvenience to government in making both ends meet but it is the business community which has to bear the toll in the form of tight fiscal and monetary policies which hardly allow businesses to grow at will.

Rashid Mehr, who is also president of the All Pakistan Business Forum, urged the government to take serious notice of soaring graph of terrorism and law & order situation in the country and immediately initiate steps to arrest fast surging crime graph.

He said that the government overall approach to trade development should be based on trade facilitation.

To a question, Mr. Mehr said that TUV Austria Bureau of Inspection & Certification has invested $2.5 million in Pakistan despite critical situation.

“We understand that law and order is major cause of decline in local and foreign investment and if the government fails to respond to private sector’s call, the economy will continue to slide ultimately resulting in closure of industry and trade.”

“We have been proposing that export development fund must be spent in this connection but no major breakthrough has been made so far. W need greater diversification in the structure and direction of our trade. Producing far few goods for far few markets is not going to strength the economy of Pakistan.”

He said that our focus should be on greater value addition and entry into new markets like Africa, South America and the Islamic world.

He stressed the need to consistently expand the country’s market access. Pakistan should actively enter into Free Trade Agreements and Preferential Trade Agreements with countries where it has a clear and mutual comparative competitive advantage.

Rahid Mehr 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. 

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.