COMPETITIVE PRICES AND QUALITY PRODUCTS ACCELERATE EXPORTS

INTERVIEW: MIR NASIR ABBAS, DIRECTOR GENERAL (MARKETING) TDAP

AMANULLAH BASHAR
Oct 26 - Nov 01, 2009

Mir Nasir Abbas has served as the Commercial Attach, Pakistan Embassy, Jakarta(1985 - 1987).

He carries various distinctions imbedded to his professional career during which he held various important positions.

He served as the Director Exhibition, Int'l Marketing (Export Promotion Bureau 1987-1990), Director Textiles EPB/Textile Quota Management Directorate(1990-1994).

He was Secretary, Export Processing Zone Authority (1994-1998), Director General (Supply Chain, Int'l Marketing EPB (1998-2002), Director General, Monitoring, Govt. of Sindh, Karachi., Director General, Sindh Katchi Abadi Authority, Special Secretary (Housing), Govt. of Sindh, Special Secretary, Local Government, Govt. of Sindh and Director General (GRMD), Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), Karachi.

Giving an overview of the export scenario in Pakistan, Mir Nasir Abbas said that over a period of time we had developed a strong base of the textile industry but unfortunately we did not capitalize on the available resources to progress in this sector through value added production of quality products.

There are many reasons for not capitalizing on the available resources. 'You see basically Pakistan is cotton based economy which helps textile sector to progress in the area of fabrics, cotton yarn, and made ups but unfortunately we have not made much progress in textiles in terms of value addition.'

"If you look at the industry you will see that investment is coming in but in most of the cases people are still looking to export business of raw material like yarn, fabrics and not going into high priced products like garments, jeans and fashion apparel etc. and making brand recognition abroad and promotion of their own brands can elicit much better price returns. And TDAP is supporting them in different export promoting exercises."

Mir Nasir Abbas was confidence to point out certain irritants hampering export growth. He said really speaking the cost of doing business in Pakistan was high as compared to other countries in the region. 'We have to be more competitive which we are not because we are paying much more for the labor and we are paying much more for the electricity, even country like Korea is cheaper in terms of electricity price.'

On the shortfall of electricity which has an adverse impact on manufacturing sector, he was in agreement that industrial areas in all provinces should have the liberty to set up their own power plants in accordance to their power consumption. 'It sounds reasonable especially when our utilities are finding it hard to cater to the electricity needs of all segments of the society, hence there is no harm in allowing the industrial areas to set up their own power plants. That would also share the burden of the power distributing companies as well.'

Highlighting the factors which required improvement he said one of them was environment standards compliances. After the textile quotas were over we had to be more cautious about compliances as required by the international customers and international trade bodies. 'We have to now educate our people to avoid trade related complications that might erupt in case if the industry fails to meet environment standards.'

He said that the textile sector had to keep focus on exports. Because we are cotton growing country we have to convert cotton into yarn and yarn into cloth but you see what price we get of one pound cotton and what we achieve after transforming it into value added products like bed linen and quality garment products, which we have not focused properly.

In fact the cotton garments get ten times more than raw cotton price. Research has to be done in this respect for producing quality products. Recently German counterpart came to Pakistan, who said there were buying agencies which were buying millions of dollar products for which links had to be merged with local stakeholders.

On the other hand cost of production has to be controlled to be competitive as compared to other countries. 'Look at Bangladesh it was zero on garment exports only a few years ago now it has progressed to an extent that Bangladesh's exports are reaching to Pakistan's exports.

Nasir Abbas said that in recent years leather was number two in export index but now rice had taken over leather and had made a noticeable place in exports, as the rice fetched around $2 billion. You can find a great dynamism in rice exports and Pakistan has to go ahead by developing value addition in rice products.

He cited the example of India where a variety of rice products were developed and which had great demand abroad. We would have to go on value addition in rice by developing value added products, which have the potential to hit $3 billion mark, he said confidently.

The TDA on its part sends a number of trade delegations to various countries including Africa, Iran and recently people are visiting Kuwait and other countries to explore rice market. TDA is promoting and motivating local exporters arranging their visits for participation in exhibitions held all over the world. Pakistan has the potential to go a long way in to exports and grab its due share in the world market for which both private and public sectors need to work together to achieve the goal, he said.