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EPB hopeful to meet exports target

Renowned chain stores of the world are being targeted for fetching better price of Pakistani products

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
July 23 - 29 , 2001

Tariq Ikram, chairman Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) has said that the Trade Policy recently announced by the government is in continuation of the previous one of course with some positive improvements. Consistency in the government policies is important to build up confidence among the investors in the economic set up of the country.

Talking about the new trade policy, Tariq Ikram said it gives guidelines for a new strategy aiming at an export friendly culture to be developed in the country. The government has focused its attention on diversification in exportable items as well as finding new markets to broaden the market for Pakistani products.

Talking to PAGE, he said, apart from traditional export items such as textile products, leather and leather products, rice, sports and surgical items efforts are being made for introducing non-traditional items in the export market. He made special mentions of Pakistani onyx, marble and granite, which can penetrate into the world market if they are converted into construction material such as, tiles for flooring and other purposes. The value addition however required will and time and efforts to be devoted to achieve the desired results. He said that EPB on its part making all efforts to facilitate the exporters both in the traditional and non-traditional items.

He agreed that in order to help out the new potential exporters an institute for imparting know-how about the export business is needed to be established. He said that it has been emphasized in the newly announced trade policy also.

He feels that in order to combat the ever-growing competition in the world market we have to use all available resources. He said that special efforts are also being made to promote exports in friendly and brotherly countries. Our foreign missions have been given special instructions to use their good offices for promotion of trade with these countries.

He said that Pakistani mangoes have a great potential to contribute significantly to the total exports from Pakistan. The Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) has made special arrangements for introducing Pakistani mangoes at world's most outstanding business chains in England. The goods placed at these stores are highly valued by the customers visiting these stores. He expressed the hope that Pakistani mangoes carving a place for themselves would move on other European markets like Italy, France and Germany etc.

He urged the business community engaged in leather business to concentrate on standard and quality production for carving a respectable place in the choosy world market. It may be noted that senior executives of UK's three major chain stores John Louis, the Harrods will be visiting Pakistan soon for buying rice from branded exporters. It is also heartening to know that a brand culture is slowly developed in the rice sector and some rice millers and exporters in collaboration with foreign investors have started exporting rice under the brand name from Pakistan. Some of the millers have set up the modern equipment for grading and polishing of Basmati rice in Pakistan, which find handsome price in the world market.

When asked to comment about the restrictions imposed by the US on Pakistani mangoes, he said actually the buyers in the West are highly conscious about hygienic value of the fresh fruits and vegetables. Since the buyers have become extremely choosy, we have to take care accordingly prior to export of fresh fruits. The government of Pakistan has already decided to allow the private sector companies to certify quality and grades of the products prior to shipment. The grade certification has started showing positive results reflected in the increase of rice export from Pakistan.

Referring to the performance of rice sector, he said this is for the first time in country's history that the quantity of rice exports crossed the mark of 2.2 million tons and expected to touch the figure of 2.4 million tons by the end of the season.

Tariq Ikram disclosed that a treatment plant set up in Karachi is yet to start operation for treatment of fruits prior to their exports. Once this plant start functioning the export of our fresh fruits specially mangoes which generally hit by the flies will be acceptable in the European and US market. Arrangements are underway for raising funds to set up a power plant at the treatment plants to put it into operation, he said.

Special efforts should also be made for improving the designs of leather products for attracting the international buyers.

On the question of meeting the export target of $10.1 billion set for the current fiscal, Tariq Ikram was confident that our private sector has the capacity to hit the target. As far as the EPB was concerned it is providing all possible infrastructural support to the export sector. He agreed that cost of production was high in Pakistan as compared to other countries. However, he added that the export sector can overcome this shortcoming by improving quality of the products, the government on its part is however taking every possible measure to bring down the cost of production of the manufacturing sector.