Exports of Pakistan can be increased by attaching priority to regional trade as 60 per cent of trade in the world is among regional blocks, said Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI) President Engr Suhail Bin Rashid here on Monday.

He said that major portion of global trade was restricted to regional trade but unfortunately, in our case, we were forced to develop our trade relations with far-flung countries. This situation results in heavy expenditure on shipment transportation cost in addition to the longer time involved. Hence, there is dire need for removing and minimizing trade barriers among regional countries. He said that only India with a huge consumer market of 1.3 billion people next to China, is an added attraction for promotion of regional trade in our close vicinity. He said direct trade links could also bring prosperity in this region.

The FCCI chief underlined the importance of exports of non-traditional items, saying that that Pakistan should diversify its export of traditional items to non-traditional markets and non-traditional items to traditional markets.

Suhail Bin Rashid lamented despite geographical proximity, regional trade between south Asian countries was US$ 16 billion in 2010 which was only 5 percent of total trade of SAARC countries compared to NAFTA 60 per cent trade among their member countries, European Union 53 per cent and ASEAN 26 per cent. South Asia has 2.5% contribution in world GDP, 22% of the world population and 3.6% in world area.

He said with the changing scenario, Pakistan should concentrate on enhancing its exports to Iran, Central Asian States, Gulf countries, Russia, Turkey and China for traditional and non-traditional items.

He said that the government should also facilitate the manufacturing of non-traditional items by extending reasonable incentives to the manufacturers of these items. He hoped that the government would also expedite its efforts to overcome the energy crisis with generation of cheap electricity in addition to the exploration of new gas wells to meet the increasing demand of our domestic as well as industrial sector.  

He urged the Government for enhancing Pakistan’s exports by way of increased number of trade delegations to the emerging and regional economies and also concentrating more on trade diplomacy as well as providing congenial and business friendly environments in the country.