NEED STRESSED TO BRIDGE COMMUNICATION GAP BETWEEN EPB, TRADE BODIES

Pakistan should focus on three regions, namely: Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asian states

From:Khalid Butt, Lahore
July 25 - 31, 2005

The communication gap between various trade bodies, especially the export-oriented players, and the Export Promotion Bureau has been identified as one of the major obstacles that is hindering the realisation of full export potential of the country.

This communication gap could, however, be bridged by developing a cordial culture in the government bodies which have yet to come out from the legacy of bureaucratic arrogance, a usual wedge between private and public sectors in our society.

The LCCI President, Mian Misbah-ur-Rehman, has urged the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) to explore new markets and new products to reduce the country's dependence on a few commodities and countries.

He expressed these views while speaking at a function arranged in the honour of Vice Chairman Export Promotion Bureau Zafar Mehmood. LCCI Vice President Sheikh Mohammad Arshad also spoke on the occasion. The function continued for well over two hours as a number of important issues were taken up in detail.

The LCCI President said that in this fast changing global scenario and highly competitive international market, the Export Promotion Bureau needs to develop regional, product-specific and target-oriented marketing strategy. He said Pakistan's exports are presently concentrated to a few countries, which is a major cause for instability in export earnings.

The LCCI President said that in order to reduce dependence on a few countries for exports, Pakistan should focus on three regions, namely: Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asian states. Africa is the biggest continent and market for Pakistan's goods. During the last five years, Pakistan's exports to Africa recorded a growth of 42%. He said that exports of non-traditional items is on the rise, which indicates that Pakistan's reliance on traditional items is on the decline. This pattern needs to be further improved by encouraging non-traditional sectors like information technology, gems and jewellery, engineering and agro-based commodities, which has a greater potential for export. EPB, he said, can help prevent post harvest wastage, ensure adequate cargo handling facilities and scanning machines at all airports to effectively compete in the international market.

The LCCI President suggested that regional offices of EPB should be delegated the authority to take decisions regarding disbursement of subsidies for participation of private sector in international trade fairs and arranging trade delegations in collaboration with the regional chambers. The facility of granting subsidy by EPB to the exhibitors participating in international trade fairs/exhibitions should be available to all the participants regardless of their annual export performance to encourage and facilitate the potential exporters to increase their exports, he added.

He said that the EPB provides subsidy, free shipments and clearance facilities to the exhibitors who participate in EPB-managed fairs.

He, however, added that it provides only 50% subsidy in stall rent to the exhibitors participating through trade bodies for their allocated fairs. He, therefore, suggested that EPB should remove this discrimination and provide subsidy to the chambers/trade bodies for their allocated fairs at par with the EPB-managed fairs.

Mian Misbah-ur-Rehman said that there is no second opinion about the fact that private-public partnership is the backbone of the success stories of the developed economies. "We need to follow the pattern in true letter and spirit for sustainable economic development of our country." In this regard, increased participation from private sector bodies in EPB activities would not only ensure a meaningful liaison but would also help understand the ground realities of trade and investment, he said.

"Export Promotion Committee (EPC) is one such forum where we can ensure such a partnership. In this regard, we would like to suggest that the recorded proceedings of the national level meetings like EPC should be conveyed to the delegates representing various chambers and other trade bodies. "Timely communication of details/decisions taken in such meetings to all the stakeholders would facilitate in taking necessary action at their end".

Vice Chairman EPB Zafar Mehmood said that the EPB is in dire need to see the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry taking the exports to the required heights. He admitted that there is a communication gap between the Export Promotion Bureau and trade bodies. He said that the business community should participate in exhibitions and trade fairs, which is the only way to boost exports.

The EPB VC also urged the LCCI to help Export Promotion Bureau disseminate the information regarding trade fairs and exhibitions to its members as a lot of businessmen are unaware of the benefits being offered by the EPB to the potential exhibitors.

MONTHLY EXPORTS ($ MILLION)

MONTH

2003-04

2004-05

July

890.2

1183.8

August

1038.7

1187.7

September

1038.8

1113.4

October

1006.6

997.8

November

861.6

897.4

December

1045.1

1120.4

January

1094

1151.9

February

906.2

1197.4

March *

1024

1356.8

Monthly Average

989.5

1134.1