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LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry Saturday suggested the government to facilitate exports to new markets to overcome widening import-export gap.

LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah, Senior Vice President Muhammad Nasir Hameed Khan and Vice President Tahir Manzoor Chaudhry said that the second month of the current financial year has witnessed a massive rise of 133 per cent increase in trade deficit driven largely by increase in the imports compared to exports.

The trade deficit in July-August 2021 stood at $ 7.5 billion as compared to $ 3.4 billion in the corresponding period last year, exhibiting an increase of 119 per cent. In this period, the import bill stood at 12.06 billion as compared to $ 6.99 billion in the corresponding period last year. On the other hand, the exports in July-August 2021 stood at $ 4.57 billion as compared to $3.58 billion in the same period last year.

The LCCI office-bearers said that the government should take concrete measures to jack-up the exports to overcome the trade deficit. They said that Pakistan's most favourite export markets have been Europe, North America and Gulf States. They said that the exporters need to look for new markets in Central Asia and in Africa, Indonesia and Malaysia. They said that share of Pakistan in Central African Republics imports is negligible. They said that Pakistan should particularly sign Free Trade Agreements with Central Asian Republics and the countries in Gulf. They said that Pakistani exports are also suffering due to skyrocketing input cost.

The LCCI office-bearers said that rising imports are developing a perception that Pakistan is becoming a trading place instead of a hub of industrialization. They said that apart from cutting the cost of doing business in Pakistan, the government would have to evolve a long-term strategy to make its products competitive in the global market to increase its exports. They said that the Prime Minister Imran Khan has already shown his concern about the escalating import-export gap.

The LCCI Office-bearers said that the growing trade deficit is posing a key challenge to the macroeconomic stability of the country besides converting it into a Consumer Society. They said that galloping trade deficit might dent country's debt payment capacity that ultimately will not be a happy sign for the overall economy.

The LCCI Office-bearers suggested that the concerned government quarters should join heads with the private sector for finding out a methodology for increasing the exports of the country that is imperative to control trade deficit. They said that to give a relief to the export-oriented sectors, major issues like huge delay in release of refunds, high input cost and large number of duties and taxes should be resolved on priority. They said that Pakistani Mission abroad should also be given task to explore new markets and new buyers for Pakistani merchandise besides convincing foreign investors to invest in Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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