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Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi Monday said Pakistan's priorities in the second phase of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are industrialization and transfer of technology to bring trade revolution in the country.

Speaking to business community at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) here, Qureshi said that during past few years, Pakistan faced a massive deindustrialization due to uncertain economic policies, however, now the industrial growth is the top priority of the PTI government aim to create more job opportunities. Qureshi said in the first phase of CPEC the major focus was energy sector to overcome power crisis. "Now, in the second phase of CPEC, our priorities are industrialization and transfer of technology from China," he added.

In addition, the government is going to sign an agreement with China to enhance the cooperation and expertise in agriculture research to enhance the production capacity for exportable surplus, the minister said.

Qureshi said the government has decided to explore new export markets to earn more foreign exchange for the country and initially some 44 markets have been indentified, where Pakistanis may have mass export opportunities. As part of these efforts, Pakistan has recently organized a Pakistan Kenya trade conference in Kenya, which is the gateway to African countries with 1.3 billion population.

He said present economic conditions of the country are much better than 2018. Pakistan has successfully avoided default with financial support from friendly countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and China. The country's foreign exchange reserves are gradually increasing and the SBP's reserves have also surged to $13 billion.

The minister said that as commercial counselors were not performing well, the government is appointing trade and investor officers in a transparent manner and their appointments have been linked with six months' performance. In addition, in order to promote travel and tourism in the country, Pakistan has allowed visa on arrival to some 50 countries.

He said the government is well aware of high utility tariff, which is directly hurting the industrial growth. However, the government is making efforts to bring down line losses in the power sector to provide relief to industrial customers. "As the line losses of power sector are gradually shrinking, the circular debt has also reduced to Rs 12 billion per month down from Rs 38 billion per month," he added.

The minister said Pakistan's industry failed to focus on value addition and is behind its competitors such as Bangladesh, which is importing cotton from Pakistan and exporting it at higher price after value addition.

The Foreign Minister said India may launch false flag operation to divert our attention from Kashmir and other domestic economic and political issues. "We have written some seven letters to the secretary general of the United Nations and president of the Security Council and in all seven we have expressed our concern," he added.

He said that Modi's BJP is losing its mandate and this may be the result of cruel policies being pursued by India in Kashmir and controversial Citizen Act.

Qureshi said the Indian government's poor policies have led to end of its tyranny and ruining the economy of Jammu and Kashmir. As per Indian economic experts the Valley has suffered economic losses worth over $2 billion and around 400,000 people have lost their jobs, he added.

Earlier, Mian Anjum Nisar, President of the FPCCI stressed on trade diplomacy to enhance exports. Kurram Ijaz, Zubair Baweja, Vice Presidents FPCCI, Zakriya Usman, Mian Zahid Hussain, Asim Ghani Usman, Shaukat Ahmed and others were also present.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020