Prosperity through trade


Jan 12 - 18, 2004





The 12th JIBA International Convention was recently held at Karachi. A large number of members from Overseas Chapters attended the Convention. On this occasion a conference was also held. The theme was "Prosperity Through Trade". Tariq Ikram, Chairman, Export Promotion Bureau was the Chief Guest. The other speakers at the inaugural session included Dr. Ishrat Husain, Governor State Bank of Pakistan; Anwar Ahadi, Governor, Central Bank of Afghanistan; Li Jianzghi, Economic and Commercial Counselor, Consulate General of China in Karachi; Firoz Cassim, Chairman, Karachi Stock Exchange and Dr. Anwar-ul-Haq, Chairman, Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.

In his keynote address, Tariq Ikram explained in detail export strategy being followed by Export Promotion Bureau. The efforts to broaden product base and extend geographical reach have started yielding results. For the first time in the history Pakistan succeeded in achieving US$ 11 billion exports. Another positive point was that growth in non-traditional products was substantial and response from new markets was encouraging. Export target for current financial year is US$ 12 billion and actual exports during the first half have exceeded the target. Higher prices of cotton, due to shortfall in production in Pakistan as well as globally, may affect export of textiles and clothing. Pakistan will not be able to export wheat this year due to shortfall in its production. He urged upon the overseas delegates to have a closer look at 'Made in Pakistan' products as the local manufacturers and exporters have been successful in improving quality of their products.

Dr. Ishrat Husain presented the story of economic turnaround substantiated by improvement in most of the macro indicators. Now Pakistan is in a better position to face external shocks. The country has accumulated around US$ 12 billion foreign exchange reserves. Debt servicing has been brought to sustainable level. Interest rates are probably the lowest in the region. Stability of exchange rate and low interest rates has improved corporate earnings. With improved water availability and higher credit disbursement of credit to agriculture sector have provided fresh impetus to rural economy. Restoration of democracy and improved governance has resulted in enhanced disbursement of funds from multilateral donors. Sovereign rating of Pakistan has been upgraded. All these improvements suggest that Pakistan is a safe haven for investment. He also suggested to the delegates and the participants that they should form their own independent opinion and should not look at Pakistan with the eyes of west, still have a bias opinion about the country.



Anwar Ahadi asked the delegates to take active part in the reconstruction of his country. Afghanistan needs from consumer goods to plant and machinery. A lot of investment is being made in infrastructure projects. To facilitate official trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan various steps are being taken, including permission to various Pakistani commercial banks to open their branches in Afghanistan. The official trade between the two countries does not exhibit the actual level as bulk of the goods still cross border without proper documentation. He also invited Pakistani entrepreneurs to visit his country and see with their own eyes the development work going on there. He was of the view that Afghanistan can benefit from the expertise of Pakistani entrepreneurs and professionals in managing financial institutions and stock exchange.

China and Pakistan are two friendly countries and roots of friendship are very deep. Lately China has invested in Sandak project, busy in construction of Gwadar deep-sea port and establishing coal based power generation plants in Tharparkar. China is also collaborating with Pakistani automobile assemblers. Li Jianzghi was of the view that quantum of inflow of foreign direct investment has not attained a level it should have. There is enormous potential for trade between the two countries. Import of China will touch one trillion dollars in next three years and Pakistan must try to get a larger share.

Firoz Cassim talked about the strength of Pakistan's equities market and the attractive dividend yield being offered by the listed companies. He put forward a convincing argument that investors in shares of Pakistani companies not only offers attractive return but also lower risk due to improved regulatory environment and adherence to higher level of corporate governance. With the listing of a number of state-owned enterprises at local stock exchanges and offer of their shares to general public shareholders base has widened.

Dr. Anwar-ul-Haq made an elaborate presentation on PCSIR and its role in promoting industrialization in the country. The expertise and ongoing research available with PCSIR if properly utilized can further accelerate the pace of industrialization in the country, creating new job opportunities and poverty alleviation.

This was the third convention organized by Karachi Chapter of JIBA International. The conference helped in achieving the twin objectives, updating of delegates about the improved economic conditions and exploring opportunities for enhancing trade with Pakistan.