islamabad

Pakistan’s leading economic experts on Wednesday advised the government to resolve exporters’ major issues to boost country’s tumbling exports.

Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan on Wednesday held a meeting with country's leading economists including former governors of State Bank of Pakistan, Dr Ishrat Hussain, Shahid Kardar, Dr Faisal Bari of LUMS, and Abid Qayyum Sulehri of SDPI. The minister took their inputs for increasing country's exports.

“We have pointed out the issues faced by the exporters including tax refunds, high cost of energy, tariff rationalization and private sector access to credit," said one of the experts who attended the meeting, wishing not to be named. The government should reduce the power tariff for the exporters, which is very high in Pakistan as against other counties.

“The government can not enhance the exports without resolving the issues of the exporters," he concluded. The government called the meeting of economic experts at the time when country' exports are continuously declining from last few months.

The Nation tried to contact Commerce Minister to take his comment, but he was not available. However, an official of the Ministry said that government called the meeting of economic experts to take their inputs regarding much delayed three years Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF).

The STFP 2015-18 was supposed to be implemented from July this year after the previous policy expired on June 30. However, the government had yet to announce the policy despite passing five months of the ongoing financial year. “We are waiting for Prime Minister’s to approve the STPF,” said the official.

The government had delayed the STPF at the time when Pakistan’s exports had come down by 13.42 per cent to $6.9 billion during first four months (July-October) of the ongoing financial year 2015-2016 from $8 billion of the corresponding month of the previous year. The economic managers of the country blamed the lower global commodity prices, weakening external demand, ongoing power shortages, and security and business climate related challenges.

The government has proposed to enhance the exports to $30 billion during ongoing financial year 2015-16, $35 billion in next fiscal year 2016-17 and $40 billion by the end of year 2017-18. The overall volume of the exports in STPF 2015-18 is estimated at $105 billion. The government had failed to achieve the targets set in the previous Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2012-15. The government failed to achieve the exports target of $95 billion in three years, as it remained under $70 billion mainly due to the poor law and order and energy situation in the country.

“The Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2015-18 prepared by the Ministry of Commerce was laid before the Committee of the Cabinet on Production and Exports in August which approved it after holding detailed deliberations in two separate meetings. The policy refined and approved by the Committee will soon be announced after approval of the Prime Minister”, said the Commerce Ministry.

Officials of the Ministry said the main focus of the upcoming trade policy will be engineering sector, rice, leather and surgical instruments and projects related to these sectors will be made part of the policy.

Efforts will be made to include more items under standards and certifications. The government will take steps to reduce locally assembled cars by tightening prevalent passport-based used cars import policy. The new policy contains attractive incentive packages for the exporters who would employ new techniques and machinery to their production methods.