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LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry, while expressing grave concern on alarming rise in import bill, has urged the government to take well-calculated and immediate measures to bridge the widening gap between imports & exports.

In a statement, LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir, Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan and Vice President Haris Ateeq said that the current situation of import-export gap demands immediate attention of the government.

They said that according to the reports, imports (July-November) have risen to 29.9 billion dollars which requires emergent remedial measures. Not only getting the alarming rise in import bill controlled but measures to rise in our exports is also equally critical which largely dependent on traditional items and few countries.

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. The exporters need to look for new markets in Central Asia and in Africa, Indonesia and Malaysia. The share of Pakistan in Central African Republics import is negligible.

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.

The LCCI Office-bearers said that the growing trade deficit is posing a key challenge to the macro-economic 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. 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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