ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) has called upon the government to focus on regional trade that would help in promoting exports and mitigating external sector vulnerabilities. ICCI said the government should take strong measures to address all impediments that were creating hurdles for private sector in promoting trade with regional countries.
Ahmed Hassan Moughal, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that Pakistan’s trade with regional countries accounted for just 8 percent of its global trade despite the fact that South Asia offered Pakistan huge potential for enhancing trade. He said that intraregional trade in South Asia was among the lowest at about 5 percent of total trade whereas intraregional trade in East Asia and the Pacific was 50 percent which showed that Pakistan was losing great prospects for economic development by not focusing on regional trade.
ICCI President said that promoting regional trade would entail huge benefits to the economy as it would create plenty of new jobs and pave way for country’s prosperity. However, he said that to realize this objective, it was essential that government should make efforts to address tariffs and non-tariff barriers with regional countries and streamline regional trade procedures.
Rafat Farid, Senior Vice President and Iftikhar Anwar Sethi Vice President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that Pakistan was desperately needed consistent increase in exports to curb trade deficit and manage external sector challenges. However, they said that potential for expanding exports to West and Europe appeared difficult due to increasing competition from other countries. They were of the view that government should ensure improved market access to regional countries to reap the full benefits of the recent economic package and earlier incentives announced for five export oriented sectors.
They said that more focus on regional trade would promote peace in the region as the convergence of economic interests of regional countries would compel them to show flexibility for resolving longstanding issues that have held hostage so far the immense economic potential of the region. They said the regional trade would also uplift living standards of South Asian people and help in reducing poverty and unemployment from the region as well.