EXPORT PROMOTION IS THE FOCUS OF TRADE POLICY

AMANULLAH BASHAR
Aug 10 - 16, 2009

The trade policy 2009-12 apparently has a plan to enhance exports volumes at least by 25 percent during next three years.

However given various constrains including high cost of inputs the petroleum and electricity prices, a large number of federal, provincial and local taxes being collected by similar number of government agencies and of course the image of the country on the back of law and order situation leave question marks on the attainability of goals given in the trade policy.

KEY OBJECTIVES

The highlights of the Trade Policy are to overcome supply side issues facing exporters; enhance competitiveness, diversify export markets and products, focus on services trade and ensure domestic reforms.

The policy envisages boosting exports by 6% YoY to US$18.6billion during financial year 2010 while in next three years to increase exports by 29% (cumulative) by Financial Year 2012 and to increase share of engineering products in exports from 1.5% in 2009 to 5% in 2012 and increase in value addition on cotton from US$1,000/bale to US$1,500/bale.

Seeking promotion of regional trade is one of the most important features of the trade policy. Despite having a huge potential of trade in the neighboring countries especially SAARC and ECO region, Pakistan's regional trade is not more than 17 percent. It is interesting to note that trade volume between Iran and Turkey and trade between Sri Lanka and India was constantly on the rise which is in the range of $100 to $200 billion.

It is painful to note that the people of Pakistan were deprived of the huge regional trade potential primarily due to irresponsible, unprofessional approach of our politicians who never comprehend the real worth of regional trade. The policy makers should also consider the importance of people to people interaction in the region which can be achieved through our diplomatic missions abroad.

Trade figures of 2009 reveal that textile exports for the fiscal year 09 declined by 10% YoY to US$9.56billion, while it is feared to decline by 2 percent in 2010 textile exports to US$9.37billion.

The government is intended to launch a scheme to compensate cement exporters for the extra freight incurred on inland transportation.

CEMENT, CLINKER & COAL DEDICATED TERMINAL

In view of the growing trade volume in cement exports and coal imports, the government has taken a timely decision to develop country's first dedicated terminal for handling coal, clinker & cement at an estimated cost of $150-$175 million.

Knowledgeable sources in the shipping circles said that the expansion with the new dedicated terminal would open an opportunity for Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT) to diversify into un-chartered markets.

In this respect, Port Qasim Authority has issued a Letter of Intent (LoI) to Pakistan International Container

Terminal (PICT) to setup the dedicated terminal at Port Qasim.

Sources at PQA said the first dedicated coal, clinker & cement terminal would have 8million ton per annum (TPA) capacity and accommodate vessels up to 75k DWT size. PICT will construct the terminal on BOT basis under the 32-year contract, sources said.

It is expected that development phase of this new terminal will take at least three years to come online in 2013.

It may be noted that initially the terminal size was planned at 4million tons with an estimated cost of US$50million. However, with increasing cement and coal volumes, PQA has increased the capacity to 8million tons.

Interestingly, country's import volume of coal continuously increases in the face of abnormal rise in diesel and fuel oil while export of cement and clinker was also on hike providing sufficient trade volumes to fully absorb the terminal capacity.

According to port sources coal imports and exports of cement and clinker have been on an uptrend in recent years depicting that combined sea borne trade of coal, clinker and cement have increased by 30% YoY in financial year 2009 to 13.6million tons.

Out of the total volumes, cement and clinker exports stood at 7.5million tons while coal imports were recorded at 6million tons in financial year 2009. On the back of these numbers it is estimated that the combined trade volume of the commodities will remain sufficient to absorb PICT's capacity once it comes online.

The dedicated terminal is poised to open more avenues for PICT to diversify into other terminal handling facilities.

It may be noted that Port Qasim is an integrated port with warehouse facilities. It also provides land facilities to support the growth of port-based industry, trade and commerce. Port facilities have been developed by both public and private interests.

Port Qasim having 5000 hectares of land dedicated for industrial or commercial complexes, 3.5 hectares of which have been allotted to a variety of enterprises and is destined to emerge as a world class port city where foreign investors from leading economies like Japan, China, EU and the US have already committed to industrial projects.

VALUE-ADDITION

In order to increase exports in terms of value it is imperative for the public and private sectors to make concerted efforts towards the goal of value-addition. The value addition is not confined to quality, variety and designs of the products but it also demands of image building of the country to supplement the efforts of the manufacturing sector.

Pakistan which is producer of the best quality Basmati rice is unable to get the real price of the aromatic Basmati rice mainly because our commercial exporters have not developed the brand culture at least in high quality and unparallel agriculture products. For image building it is highly important to wage a counter campaign against the biased reports unleashed by foreign media. The motive of these anti-image reports seems to deprive Pakistan of its share in the global export market.

Every body knows that the sports goods including foot balls, hockey, cricket bats, and surgery and cutlery items are second to none in the world but these precious items are being sold under the cover of international brands. All-out efforts are required to develop brands for made-in-Pakistan goods to get the real worth of the hard labor done by our people in producing quality products. Practical and scientific approach is needed to develop built-in human resource qualities of our skilled manpower. Nothing pays back more than the investment in human resource development. It is the secret of a prosperous Pakistan.

2ND NATIONAL AUTO JOURNALISTS AWARDS

PAGE REPORT

Indus Motor Company (IMC) hosted Pakistan's 2nd national Auto Journalists Awards (NAJA) 2009 at a local hotel in Karachi. NAJA is a concerted effort by IMC to acknowledge the efforts of journalists working in the local media for coverage and analysis of the auto sector. Ms. Shazia Marri, Minister for Information, Government of Sindh graced the occasion.

Agha Masood, Editor Exports Trend, a renowned columnist and a prominent TV personality who on the back of his professional exposure managed the panel of judges to finalize the award winners for the year.

Agha Masood before announcing the name of the winners highlighted the importance of the efforts of the sponsors for promoting the quality journalism besides encouraging the young writers entering in the field of auto journalism.

Erum Zaidi (The Nation) was named "Auto Journalist of The Year" for her outstanding contributions to the field, while Aamir Shafaat Khan (Dawn) won the 1st runner up award, followed by Moonis Ahmed (Daily Times) as the 2nd runner up.

Nominations for 2nd NAJA 2009 were short listed from publications over the course of last year, and judged on a number of criteria, by an independent jury comprising senior journalists, auto industry professionals and mass media academics, including Agha Masood, Abdul Waheed Khan, Prof. Zakariaya Sajid, Prof. Nisar Zuberi, and Prof. Inam Bari Jafri.

The awards are aimed at giving recognition to auto reporting, enhancing the quality of professionalism in this field, and encouraging capacity building in line with modern reporting methodologies practiced internationally.

During the ceremony, Ms. Shazia Marri, minister for information, Government of Sindh praised the efforts of Indus Motor Company in organizing such an award ceremony and in providing indispensable service to auto journalism. She added that the future of auto journalism is very bright in Pakistan and these awards would go a long way in encouraging more journalists to write on issues pertaining to the auto industry.

Speaking at the occasion, Parvez Ghias, CEO, Indus Motor Commune said, "We are in the midst of world economic recession and like most countries Pakistan is also passing through a challenging period. The auto industry specifically has faced an unprecedented decline in sales. However, with government support it is hopeful that the auto industry decline would be arrested and it would see some growth in the coming years."

He highlighted that NAJA aims to identify best practices in the field of auto reporting and inculcate a competitive spirit in journalism. IMC is proud to be a facilitator in this moment to encourage capacity building of local media and to give them momentum for continuous development in terms of professional and personal growth. The success of NAJA can be judged from the mere increase in the entries received for this year and we hope that the entries will continue to grow in the future and more journalists will vie to win the coveted award.


PAKISTAN'S LIQUID FOREIGN RESERVES POSITION

The total liquid foreign reserves held by the country stood at $ 11,717.7 million on 1st August, 2009.

The break-up of the foreign reserves position is as under:-

i) Foreign reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan:

$ 8,309.7 million

ii) Net foreign reserves held by banks (other than SBP):

$ 3,408.0 million

iii) Total liquid foreign reserves:

$ 11,717.7 million