Time to encourage local industry, reduce imports: Dawood

MULTAN    –   Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industries, Production and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood said here Thursday that the government was committed to encourage local industry and reduce imports to give a new direction to the national economy for stability, subsequent growth and progress.

It was time to pursue a policy of encouraging local industries which provided jobs and export products and to discourage import of finished products, he said while addressing a gathering of industrialists and business tycoons at the Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).

He said that South Punjab was rich in cotton production and stressed efforts to meet 15 million cotton bales mark or even go beyond it. He said that cotton and textile exports contribution was 51 per cent to the national economy.

He said that agriculture rich Multan was hub of agro-based industry and Argo Food Processing (AFP) facility was doing good in producing pulp from fruit. He, however, underlined the need for enhancing its capacity by 150 per cent. However, he added, farmers, industrialists and traders should also come forward to make it happen.

Razak Dawood said the government would formulate a mango policy and take steps for proper marketing of mangoes. He announced to hold big mango festival in Multan.

He said the government was heading to a clear direction on economic front, adding that the country remained a victim of de-industrialization during the last decade and the incumbent government had to make arrangements for jobs for 200 million people. It would not just be trading but robust industrialization, he said. He criticized elements bringing in products through under-invoicing and selling these at low price at the cost of local industry. He said that it would not happen from now onwards. Razak Dawood said that Pakistani tractors were being exported to South Africa and local motorcycle industry was assembling 2.7 million units every year.

He said the government was committed to revive the closed industry. However, loan facility would not be extended repeatedly to one individual for the purpose, he added.

Razak Dawood said that Pakistan had signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with five countries. He said that under the phase-I of FTA with China, imports worth $15 billion were pouring in and $1.5 billion were being exported to China.

However, under the phase-II, Pakistan would enjoy zero-rated or duty free export of over 300 products, a facility that was being availed by Asian countries. He said that with the signing of FTA phase-II government has done its job and now it was up to the industrialists and business persons how they capitalise on this opportunity.

He said he planned to lead a big delegation to China in September and another delegation in November 2019 and asked the Multan industrialists to be ready for the opportunity.

He asked industrialists to give at least 50 acre land for export display center in Multan, adding that rest would be done by the government. He added that Faisalabad industrialists had given 78 acre land for export display center, adding that the government could not do everything alone and would need cooperation and support from the industrialists and traders.

He asked chambers to prepare a detailed report on problems and apprehensions with regard to trade with Iran, adding that these would be discussed with Iranian trade minister upon his visit to Pakistan expected in July 2019.

He said that past governments failed to take up the SME sector development seriously, adding that the government was holding talks with Japanese government for provision of working capital to SMEs and their upgradation.

He said the government would soon look into the auto policy.

He reiterated the government’s commitment to continue to work for women empowerment, adding that women must be brought to the mainstream for progress.

To a question on urban expansion at the cost of trees being cut, he said it was a serious issue and he would talk to the prime minister. He disclosed that new textile policy was under preparation and would be announced within the next few weeks. He said that chambers of commerce and industry could also give their feedback.

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