ISLAMABAD-The industry representatives on Friday proposed that the facilitation measures for decreasing the cost of doing business should be accompanied with steps to address the liquidity issues of the industry, especially the export sector, in the upcoming budget for next fiscal year.

They have acknowledged the steps taken by the government in the last one and a half years which had started paying the dividends before the disruption created by the COVID-19 crisis.

The Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood chaired a meeting of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC)’s “Think Tank on COVID-19”. The Think Tank comprises Secretary Commerce, Additional Secretary (Trade Diplomacy), Director General (Textiles) and leading industrialists from various sectors. The objective of the Think Tank is to explore out-of-box ideas and formulate strategy to reduce the adverse effects of the evolving COVID-19 situation on Pakistan’s exports. The participants joined the meeting through video-link, following the SOPs on social distancing.

The Advisor to Prime Minister said that the COVID-19 has brought a change in the world and has badly affected the economy. He underscored that the situation is also an opportunity to reshape the business models. Razak Dawood added that there was a need to be innovative, both domestically and internationally, to explore the opportunities.

“This is imperative to not only sustain our share in traditional markets and products but also to explore new avenues especially in services sectors”, stated Razak Dawood.

Dawood highlighted that the present government is not only taking care of the core export sectors but it is facilitating the emerging sectors. He said that diversification, economies of scales, competitiveness, technology up-gradation, tariff rationalization and encouraging domestic and international investment is the focus of this government and the industry would see major policy initiatives in the upcoming budget.

The industry representatives acknowledged the steps taken by the government in the last one and half years which had started paying the dividends before the disruption created by the COVID-19 crisis. They proposed that the facilitation measures for decreasing the cost of doing business should be accompanied with steps to address the liquidity issues of the industry, especially the export sector. The industry representatives appreciated the briefing given by Dawood on steps taken by the government to encourage local production and said that this would not only arrest deindustrialization but also bring new investments especially from the local players.

The businessmen shared innovative ideas to encourage domestic manufacturing. They also highlighted various tariff anomalies in different sectors. The credit availability schemes to further facilitate the export sectors and the non-traditional sectors were also discussed. The industry representatives recognized the central role played by Abdul Razak Dawood in formulation of Pakistan’s first-ever Mobile Phone Manufacturing Policy and requested that similar measures may be taken for other sectors as well.

Appreciating the ideas put forth by the members of the Think Tank, the Advisor to Prime Minister said that Pakistan needs innovative approaches for rapid growth by increasing our share in international as well as domestic markets. The industry representatives vowed to come up more proposals within a week after consulting stakeholders in different sectors.

Pakistan’s exports and imports had declined massively in April due to the outbreak of coronoavirus throughout the world.

The country’s exports have reduced to $957 million in April 2020 from $2.089 billion in the same month of the previous year, showing massive decline of 54.19 percent. According to the latest data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the imports have also reduced by 34.49 percent to $3.088 billion in April this year from $4.714 billion in corresponding period of previous year. Pakistan’s trade deficit has shrunk to $2.131 billion in April 2020 as against $2.625 billion showing reduction of 18.82 percent.