ISLAMABAD -  The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Sunday said external trade can be revived if all the sectors are dealt on equal terms and cumbersome rules and regulations are made reasonable. The government announces incentives for the export sector, but these are seldom implemented therefore this important segment of the economy keeps reeling under problems, it said.

Last year, the government announced a package worth Rs180 billion in which incentives were offered for only five major sectors while the rest were ignored, which was seen as preferential treatment by some stakeholders, said Atif Ikram Sheikh, Chairman FPCCI Regional Committee on Industries.

He said that five sectors were given the facility of zero rating while the rest were ignored while the exporters dealing in these sectors do not get timely refunds which compromise their competitiveness.

Atif Ikram Sheikh said that policy of holding back refunds has a negative impact as some sectors have stopped adding refunds in their calculation and they would only export something when it is profitable without refund.

Some of the sectors not claiming refund claims include pharmaceuticals, poultry, and bike manufacturers. A reason behind this trend is the differences between exporters and authorities on the way amount of the refund is calculated, he said.

If the sectors that are not claiming refunds are supported they would enhance exports resulting in an improved job situation and foreign exchange earnings.

Climate Change termed biggest threat

The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Chairman Regional Standing Committee on Trade and Industries and former vice president, Riaz Khattak on Sunday said climate change is becoming a serious problem for us, saying our biggest threat isn't terrorism but climate change.

He said it is very important subject but apparently no steps are being taken to tackle the issue except for joint meetings with Ministry of National Food Security and provincial departments without any tangible results.

The FPCCI official revealed that agriculture sector is suffering from unpredictability in growth and its performance remains subdued.

According to Pakistan’s Economic Survey 2014-15, insufficient progress in technological innovation, limited progressive farming techniques, marketing and trade restrictions, low prices of crops and traditional processing methods are major reasons for low production.

Around 40 per cent of the total agricultural production was wasted in post-harvest due to insufficient utilisation of biotechnology. In this scenario, use of biotechnology seems to be the most fitting solution to revive this sector.

"Khattak said there is a strong need to launch an initiative to digitise agriculture and provide necessary information to farmers to increase production.

It is heartening to note that a mobile company operating in Pakistan has taken the initiative in this regard but the services of this initiative are limited to certain regions, which needs to be extended to the whole country".

In order to cope this we should work on productivity increase, adapting to climate change, poverty alleviation, input subsidies, agriculture research and extension, improving seed provision, agriculture produce markets, genetically modified crops, and meeting globalisation challenges.

Similarly agriculture sector of the country is being badly affected due to climate change and disturbance of seasons and decreasing water level in the earth. In future, the situation can become worse if we do not take appropriate measures. Khattak also viewed that the whole world is affecting due to climate change and Pakistan could become single most affected country in future if pre-emptive measures are not taken. "It is a huge problem and projects could not be approved without environmental assessment," he said.

As climate change is global issue and there is very serious concern on it in the international community but on Pakistan side we are yet to do anything. He said that as many as 190 countries had gathered in Paris in 2015 to negotiate a climate change agreement that will frame the global agenda on this issue for the next decade and beyond. He said that these countries made an agreement to take measures to protect the earth. He said that there is also an idea to limit greenhouse gas emission as part of an international agreement in Paris.