Market-driven approach needed to boost foreign trade

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan needs to follow a market-driven approach keeping in view the global trends and needs to boost its foreign trade, says a leading investment expert.
“We are living in post covid recovery period and in great uncertainty at all levels. Perhaps for the first time in near history, we are facing so many challenges of fiscal consolidation,” said Haroon Sharif, former chairman Board of Investment (BoI), while talking to WealthPK.
“We have two fundamental issues — our productivity is low and our competitiveness is not there. Furthermore, exports are also handicapped due to weak policies and complex incentives offered to the industry,” he said.
Haroon said the government needs to create special incentives for investors who come and increase market competitiveness by bringing technology and industry to enable some exportable surplus.
“When the local industry starts working on technological upgradation, there will be an inflow of foreign investment. It will generate employment opportunities for locals because, by that time, not only industries related to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), but other sectors will also be active in contributing towards economic activity in the country. It will make people feel more optimistic about these employment opportunities,” he said.
The former chairman of BoI said the government needs to take local as well as foreign investors into confidence about massive returns of investment in CPEC projects.
A spokesperson for the Planning Ministry told WealthPK that many factors prevent Pakistan from fully utilising its domestic industry, like severe energy crisis, lack of direct foreign investment due to security concerns, unskilled labour, inadequate infrastructure, inefficient transport system, and outdated technologies.
“It is a matter of concern that Pakistani exports are going down at a time when the competitors are gaining success in the global market. For Pakistani products to appeal to maximum foreign buyers, it is imperative that we diversify our businesses, and introduce new products,” he suggested.
The spokesperson said the government must develop a regional, product-specific and target-oriented marketing strategy. He said new markets and products need to be explored to reduce the country’s dependence on a few commodities and countries.
Federal Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal said at a recent function that in addition to being competitive, a country’s exports should be in line with market trends and quality, and be certified on internationally acceptable standards. He said connecting Pakistan to the global supply value chain is a major challenge that the government is working on.