Pak missions seek increased trade incentives to tap new markets

From KHALID BUTT, Lahore
June 27 - July 03, 2005

Pakistan's trade missions abroad, which aim to tap markets for new products and enhance volume of exports, have recommended a series of recommendations for the up-coming trade policy 2005-06, suggesting special incentives to packaging industry as the country lags far behind in quality presentation of products in international markets.

Almost all trade missions abroad have sent the proposals, seeking increased trade incentives for tapping new markets for the country's products, specifically focusing the packaging industry in Pakistan.

Pakistan's trade mission at Jeddah has stressed the need for developing an elaborate strategy to focus Pakistan's exports to the Middle East by taking the maximum advantage of the growing disenchantment of the people of the region with those countries that joined the invasion of Iraq. The mission has emphasized for giving special attention to improve the packaging and presentation, which was a key factor for its growth.

The mission has asked for arranging a virtual exhibition where the foreign buyers would be able to appreciate different products/items available in Pakistan, indicating entire technical details and pricing thereof. This proposed exhibition should also offer placing of orders to the suppliers through Internet. An extensive Arabic website is also required, which could be readily utilized by at least 22 Arabic speaking countries.

The trade mission at Tehran, while highlighting packaging importance, has proposed that a policy/strategy be evolved to harmonise quality and quarantine standards of the country's agricultural products with international requirements. The mission also suggested evolving of suitable strategy for transit of Pakistani products through neighboring/other countries. "The government should accord priority to the establishment of common border market between the two countries in the upcoming trade policy. The government should also adopt appropriate measures in controlling the smuggling by facilitating normal trade between the two countries." The mission stressed the need for organizing a single-country exhibition in Iran whereas Iran has so far organized three single-country exhibitions in Pakistan."

The mission at South Africa, in its recommendations, pointed out that exporters might be encouraged to enhance the capacity of parboiling of rice in Pakistan. "The vegetable processing sector must be given incentives as there is a growing demand for it in that market." It was recommended that the surgical instruments sector must be encouraged to diversify its products.

"South Africa's motor industry development program (MIDP) may be considered by the government to make the auto industry export-oriented." Under the MIDP, the exporters of cars were allowed to import duty-free those models, which were not manufactured in that country, against export credit in a given period.

The Kenyan trade mission proposed to the government to announce a special incentives package for boosting exports to Africa. They also suggested that a voluntary quality control scheme should be introduced with the help of an international pre-shipment inspection agency, an insurance company, and the Pakistan Standard Institute.

It was also proposed to update the traditional mechanism of trade dispute resolution in the up-coming trade policy. The Pakistani mission also suggested that the government should establish a number of export processing zones like the ones established in Kenya for setting up small and medium size enterprises for making exports to African countries and also to the Western Europe and the United States.

The trade mission at Dhaka has proposed that special measures are needed to be incorporated in the forthcoming trade policy for the benefit of shipping lines carrying cargoes for Bangladesh.

Similarly, shipping agents engaged by exporters for shipments to Bangladesh may also be offered incentives. Measures should aim at having direct container service to reduce the cost and time of transportation for exportable goods.

"Our exporters will be better able to face stiff competition if suitable credit package is made available to them for attracting major buyers in Bangladesh. A wide range of Pakistani products will find new buyers if the exporters to Bangladesh are in a position to avail long-term soft credit facilities." The mission further proposed that under the provisions of new trade policy, groups of exporters representing different sectors might be allowed to avail a package of marketing and publicity support. "Such an arrangement will improve competitiveness of our exporters in Bangladesh. Joint ventures in textile, light engineering, transportation equipment, fruit processing and other fields can further strengthen the position of our exporters in Bangladesh," added the mission.

Pakistan's embassy at Bangkok also proposed to the government for rationalization of cost of production of Pakistani products, specifically industrial products.

Pakistan's embassy at Tashkent proposed that there was a need of low cost machinery and equipment in textile and food processing sectors in Uzbekistan. "Such machinery and equipment being manufactured in Pakistan, therefore, could be promoted in Uzbekistan.