M Jahangir Hayat
LAHORE: President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi has said that Pakistan will not only be having a good export market but it would ensure access to other neighboring countries. He said the diversification and value addition of products are a must to achieve higher exports and explore the yet untapped global markets, particularly the African region.
He was addressing the 4th Export Trophy arranged by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar and Vice President Mian Zahid Jawaid Ahmed also spoke on the occasion while Executive Committee Members, former office-bearers and businessmen were present on the occasion.
The president called for use of information technology and artificial intelligence in the agriculture and other businesses to bring more efficiency and profitability. He said unlike the past, the modern technologies had made it easier for the businessmen to assess the requirements of targeted markets to help design the supply chain accordingly.
He said currently Pakistan’s exports revolved around cotton, wheat, rice and sugarcane, which necessitated the diversification of existing products and investment in modern fields like the information technology.
He told the audience that until 2010, the world’s top 10 companies hailed from the oil sector but currently they had been replaced by the IT (information technology) firms, which manifested the huge scope of the sector. The president also advised the agriculturalists to think out of the box and consider producing sugar from beetroots to replace the sugarcane which burdened the water resources.
He said the flood irrigation of crops caused huge wastage of rain waters which needed to be mended through modern technology to preserve the natural resource. He said under the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, the government had massively planted olive trees to meet the country’s needs as well as opening up export opportunities. The president particularly advised the businessmen to adhere to the principles of morality, honesty and sincerity in their trade across the globe, which ultimately paid back in the long term.
He said as an initiative to promote Pakistan’s fruits abroad, the President House dispatched mango packs to different heads of state along with descriptive pamphlets. He also asked the business community to support the industry workers and create job opportunities for women and differently-abled people. The president viewed that Pakistan had successfully sailed through the COVID-19 pandemic due to Allah Almighty’s blessings and support extended to the needy ones by the people as well as the government under the Ehsaas Programme.
President of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said through the Export Trophy, LCCI aims to encourage businesses to diversify into new markets and add value to their products through more advanced use of technology to become more competitive in exports.
Irfan Iqbal Sheikh appreciated the government positive role during the highly challenging lockdown period and said the govt deserves appreciation for introducing various schemes to facilitate the exporters and other businesses which were adversely impacted by COVID-19 outbreak, adding exports hold great importance for Pakistan’s economy as they are the main source of revenue generation, employment creation and maintaining balance of payments stability etc.
As Pakistan aims to become a competitive economy in the region and recover from the adverse impact of COVID-19, it is imperative for us to enhance our export revenues to deal with serious economic challenges that are being faced by our nation.
He said in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak, it was obvious that exports would be seriously hit but fortunately Pakistan managed to minimize the fall in exports earnings due to smart policy initiatives. In 2019-20 Pakistan’s exports stood at 21.39 billion dollars as compared to 22.96 billion dollars in 2018-19.
President LCCI said it is a matter of concern that Pakistan’s export products are heavily concentrated in textiles, rice, leather and few other items. There is a need to diversify our exports, especially focusing on potential sectors like Halal Food, Information Technology, Engineering Industry, Surgical Instruments, Sport Goods and Pharmaceuticals etc. In this connection, we recommend the government to establish Export Processing Zones across the country on priority basis.
Mentioning about the export potential in Pakistan’s IT sector, LCCI president said Pakistan has presence of over 5,000 IT companies and call centers and have sufficient number of IT professionals, while every year, almost 20,000 IT graduates are being produced at national level. There is a great potential of taking our IT exports well beyond the current level of 1 Billion Dollars.
He said there is also an immense potential to enhance halal food exports as we have abundant availability of livestock. Currently, our Meat Exports are around 300 million dollars only while the global Halal Food Market is well above 1 Trillion Dollars and is dominated by Non-Muslim countries.
Realizing the importance of exports in our economy, LCCI has declared an export emergency and established an Export Facilitation Centre in Lahore Chamber which is facilitating LCCI members, especially the emerging exporters in getting the knowledge about export procedures, potential markets & products for enhancing their exports.
He said there is a great need of collective actions for exploring new export markets as about 55 percent of the Pakistan’s exports go to just 10 countries and concrete steps are a need of time to fetch better export revenues from untapped potential markets like Africa, Russia, South America and Central Asia etc.
Realizing the importance of Africa as a potential market, The LCCI President said an Africa Desk at LCCI has also been set up to facilitate LCCI members and to address the issues involved in enhancing exports to Africa. It is worth mentioning that our exports to Africa are just 1.4 billion dollars while India’s exports to Africa are 29 billion dollars, he added.
He further said that currently Pakistan’s exports to the SAARC countries are merely around 10 percent of our total exports. An effective strategy needs to be adopted for a turnaround in the regional trade for Pakistan.
President LCCI highlighted the long standing issue of the lack of good infrastructure as far as Testing Laboratories and Standard Certification and said that the government should upgrade the existing testing laboratories to bring them at par with international standards for serving the export needs of our industries, adding that we also recommend that state-of-the-art testing laboratories should be established in all the Special Economic Zones.
While thanking H.E. Dr. Arif Alvi for gracing the ceremony, President LCCI also congratulated all the award winners and hope that 4th Edition of LCCI Export Trophy will open new avenues for the exporters in future.
Earlier, Dr Arif Alvi distributed awards among the winners including Mian Tariq Nisar of Nisar Spinning Mills received President of Pakistan Trophy, Muhammad Tahir Anjum of Six-B Food Industries President of Pakistan Gold Trophy, Jazib Zaman CEO of TechAbout Private Limted, Jahanzeb Javed from Nobel Foods, Hamza Amjad Wazir from Power Vision Systems, Ghulam Nabi from Awais Fancy Embroidery, Kh. Shahzaib Akram from Pharma Health Pakistan and Bilal Ejaz from Symbol Industries received LCCI Golden Trophy, Tariq Mehmood from Sarwar Foods, Abdul Waheed from Supreme Rice Mills, Javed Ahmed from Ittefaq Trading Company, Muhammad Nadeem Qureshi from 4B GENTEL International, Akhlaq Ahmad from Epesol, Rana Abdul Manan from Atlas Exports and Fiaz Haider from BB Chempak Industries received Best Export Performance Trophy. Aftab Ahmad from Kalamkaar and Haris Ateeq from Bridal Earlier, Dr Arif Alvi distributed awards among the winners including Mian Tariq Nisar of Nisar Spinning Mills received President of Pakistan Trophy, Muhammad Tahir Anjum of Six-B Food Industries President of Pakistan Gold Trophy, Jazib Zaman CEO of TechAbout Private Limted, Jahanzeb Javed from Nobel Foods, Hamza Amjad Wazir from Power Vision Systems, Ghulam Nabi from Awais Fancy Embroidery, Kh. Shahzaib Akram from Pharma Health Pakistan and Bilal Ejaz from Symbol Industries received LCCI Golden Trophy, Tariq Mehmood from Sarwar Foods, Abdul Waheed from Supreme Rice Mills, Javed Ahmed from Ittefaq Trading Company, Muhammad Nadeem Qureshi from 4B GENTEL International, Akhlaq Ahmad from Epesol, Rana Abdul Manan from Atlas Exports and Fiaz Haider from BB Chempak Industries received Best Export Performance Trophy. Aftab Ahmad from Kalamkaar and Haris Ateeq from Bridal Zone received Best Export Brand Trophy.
President of Pakistan also gave appreciation awards to the LCCI former Presidents Iftikhar Ali Malik, Mian Anjum Nisar, LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar and Vice President Mian Zahid Jawaid Ahmed.