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LAHORE: Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood said on Saturday that no one should be worried about the Generalized Preferential System Plus (GSP Plus) status by European Union (EU) as Pakistan got a two-year extension in this status.

He was talking to the media after inaugurating Pakistan Footwear Designers Hub (PFDH), a joint initiative of Punjab Industries and Commerce Department, Pakistan Footwear Manufacturers Association (PFMA) and UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) here at PFMA office. The advisor mentioned that a few days back, he had a meeting with the prime minister in this regard.

The inaugural ceremony was graced by Abdul Razak Dawood, Advisor to PM for Commerce and Investment, PFMA Chairman Imran Malik, UNIDO Qasar Waique, Punjab Small Industries Corporations (PSIC) Managing Director Tahir Watoo and Project Director Cluster Development Initiative (CDI) Tayyaba Kamal.

Regarding fresh tranche of IMF (International Monetary Fund), he said that he had recently talked to Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen and negotiations were underway with the Fund and this matter would be settled down by end-September this year.

To a question, Dawood said that economic growth hinged on right and well-conceived trade and investment policies but, unfortunately, in the past, Pakistan’s economic culture was import-centric. He said, “Even though Vietnam and Bangladesh shoes exports surpassed Pakistan’s shoe exports, let me give you an example of mobile phones, which have a few years ago been totally imported from other countries.”

“We are now manufacturing and exporting mobile phones and last month, some 5,000 to 10,000 mobile phones exported from Pakistan and it could become possible only because of prudent and viable economic policies of the present government. We are also formulating the best policies for the shoe industry as well,” he added.

About Afghanistan, the advisor said that everybody knew situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan was hopeful of early return of routine life there, however, it was a good omen that Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan did not affect and trade consignments were still entering into Afghanistan through Torkham Border.

At this point in time, trade with India could not be started, he responded to a reporter’s query and added, “Let us concentrate on our western border and once the western border is Okay then we will focus on eastern border.”

To a another question, he said that it was not the only Pakistan that was hit by inflation and price-hike but the entire world was facing this problem, he said and asserted that currently, commodity prices in the world had increased manifolds, as prices of cement, steel and oil etc, and containers’ charges and shipping costs were now very high.

Razak Dawood said the government was also focusing on development of the agriculture sector and taking various measures to have enhanced crops’ yield, citing that this year, by the grace of Allah Almighty, Pakistan reaped bomber crops.

He said that shoes designing in Pakistan played very important role in country’s local and export production, and it was a good omen that Pakistani designers in collaboration with American shoes designers were designing footwear while energizing Pakistani culture of Swati, Hunza and Multani shoes designs with American designs.

“I do appreciate the efforts of the Punjab government, PFMA and UNIDO for setting up Pakistan Footwear Designers Hub, as it will not only help enable our youth, both male and females, to gain new experiences in this field but also increase our exports and local shoes industrial production,” he said.

He mentioned that no proper attention had been paid to country’s shoe industry for the last 10 years but the present government focused this industry and provided relief to it by reducing duties and taxes which would further be reduced so that this potential industry could grow and expand.

He was of the view that local shoes designing would largely benefit the country’s SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and this initiative would also decrease substantially the shoes import, assuring that Ministry of Commerce would extend full support to this sector.

He vowed that Pakistan would recapture the lost global shoes markets, adding that shoes production was catering to the local needs and the Pakistan’s shoes export would further increase in days to come.

PFMA Chairman Imran Malik has acknowledged the contributions of UNIDO and PSIC to make it a big success. During his speech, he personally thanked Abdul Razak Dawood, Advisor to PM for Commerce and Investment for supporting the Footwear Industry in the fiscal year budget 2021-2022 by offering concessional regularity policies and tax relief to the industry. It has put the industry on fast track of growth during last 3 years. PFMA chairman pointed out that industry has witness 63 percent increased in its membership, -92 percent reduction in shoe import, +22 percent increased in export in last 3 years alone. This has allowed Industry to set export target of $300 million up to 2025 and US one billion by 2030. These targets are achievable if government continue its incentives support in DLTL, LTFF, Export Refinance Fund (ERF), rebate on footwear exports should be extended from 4.7 percent to 7 percent, subsidy on Footwear Testing Lab liked offered to other sectors, 25 percent Subsidy on TUF (Technical Up Gradation Fund) for Technology up gradation, special fund for Skill Development Training and allocation of government land for Footwear Training Institute.

Besides praising government, PFMA chairman also put forward list of key issue faced by the industry, which requires immediately government’s attention such as lack of technological adoption in the industry, terrorism and law and order situation, lack of allied industry and absence of clear State Bank Policy to fund footwear sector.

PFMA chairman demanded the re-imbursement of Customs duty of Italian machineries paid by PFMA from its own funds; water treatment and waste treatment plants are already exempted from duties only for health sectors. It should be exempted for all the industries as CSR (corporate social responsibility) in EHS and government should also offer subsidy on installation of water treatment and waste treatment plants, grant of six percent R&D support to leather footwear should be restored and further reduction of Customs duty on footwear raw material to make it more impactful for the industry to thrive.

Punjab Small Industries Corporation (PSIC) Managing Director Muhammad Tahir Watto has expressed his appreciation to the Cluster Development Initiative (CDI) for executing this flagship project of the Punjab government.

He lauded the role of PFMA for providing strong support and assistance to the center. Watto stated: “Pakistan Shoe Design Hub (PSDH) is the result of a Diagnostic Study Report, which revealed a lack of designing and marketing related services, thereby limiting the footwear industry from achieving its full potential in the international market. I am confident that PSDH will serve to provide indigenous and affordable designs and market intelligence to the footwear cluster companies.”

Pakistan Footwear Manufacturer Association has established Pakistan Shoes Design hub (PSDH) in Lahore.

Pakistan’s first Shoe Design Hub is a Design Development Center bridges between Pakistan Footwear Industry and their skill & quality development. PSDH specially support developing and upcoming brands, individual entrepreneurs & freelance designers in term of latest technology, marketing and business planning to enhance their reach to the international market. The objective is to make Pakistan’s Footwear industry more competitive in term of Design and Cost with its European counterparts.

Pakistan Shoe Design Hub is established with the support of UNIDO and PSIC. UNIDO all-out support has made this project turn into reality and become a success. PFMA Chairman Imran Malik has shared his special gratitude to the expertise of international consultants of UNIDO (ASSOMAC).

Under this initiative, PSDH regularly conduct computer aided footwear designing courses (Shoe Master 2D/3D & creative) with latest technology like 3D scanner, 3D printer, 2D digitizer, Oscillating knife cutter and plotter to develop industry, individual entrepreneurs to place and firm their position in the global scenario.

PSDH has form a club of local and foreign footwear designers to network beyond the border limitation and share their expertise to benefit each other. The purpose is to strengthen Pakistan footwear industry by support individual entrepreneurs and freelance designers at their developing stage to apply better business planning, marketing and manufacturing techniques to avoid draining their talent, passion and resources.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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