ISLAMABAD-The Pakistan People’s Party on Monday lambasted the government’s trade policy, which pushed the country’s exports to the eight-year low level of $20.8 billion in the previous fiscal year 2015-16.

“The PML-N government has badly failed to increase Pakistan’s exports. It has not developed a comprehensive plan to open direct channels between exporters and the trade bodies in US, EU, Middle East, Gulf States, Africa and Central Asia,” said former finance minister Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, who is also chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance.

Pakistan’s exports had come down to $20.8 billion during the last financial year that ended on June 30, far less than the annual target of $25.5 billion. The exports had touched the eight years lowest level despite the fact that the country received GSP Plus status from the European Union. The GSP Plus status was supposed to enhance the country’s exports by one billion dollars per annum. This was for the first time in last many years that country’s exports could not surpass even the $21 billion level. Exports were recorded at $25 billion during the year 2013-14 and $24 billion in 2014-15.

The major opposition party, PPP, said that PML-N government has continuously missed the exports target during the last three years. Mandviwalla said that government has not captured the neighboring markets of Afghanistan, Iran and India, which have a huge potential. Bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan is reducing drastically, while it has not moved a single step forward with Iran, which is very much alarming for the economy, he added.

Former finance minister noted that government could not achieve the exports target of $35 billion by the 2018 as announced in the Strategic Trade Policy Framework due to its policies. “Government has no clue how to enhance exports; it has failed to bring a concrete and comprehensive trade policy in the last three years, which is its big failure. It has done nothing for exports refunds which are pending after three years. It has not provided any incentive to exporters like other countries. In these circumstances, how Pakistan can increase export,” he questioned.

“Pakistan’s depressing export performance has been a cause of concern for quite some time now. Undoubtedly, the continuous decline in exports is a big concern at the moment, a situation that demands urgent steps from quarters concerned to put things in the right order,” Senator Mandviwalla said.