- TDAP Chief Executive SM Muneer says former TDAP heads misappropriated Rs 1.3b
- Says improvement in law and order situation paramount for trade
The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) is striving hard to boost the country’s exports. The Authority is searching for a number of new avenues to market Pakistani products through international exhibitions, said TDAP Chief Executive S M Muneer.
“There was a global recession which affected local brands adversely in the international market and our exports declined by 14 per cent this year,” he said, adding that the exports of countries like India declined by 22 per cent, China by 12 per cent and Japan by 14 per cent.
In an exclusive interview with Pakistan Today, the TDAP’s chief said, “The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has so far recovered Rs 3.2 million out of Rs 1,300 million misappropriated by the previous heads of TDAP.”
Commenting on his service as TDAP’s chief, he said, “I am just serving the business community in TDAP for the last 27 months and spending money from my own pocket so that the country’s exports may increase despite all the crises and law and order deterioration.”
He said that the exports of the country are not declining in terms of quantity, rather the value of the exports have come down in the international market because of low inflation rate and increasing dollar rate in European and American markets compared to local currency. The fall in international oil prices should also benefit the business community.
“Prices of products have come down during the period, but the quantity of exports might have increased during the last one year,” he said.
“The federal government has now overcome the energy crisis and has improved the law and order situation over the last few months. Industries in Punjab and Sindh are getting uninterrupted supply of gas and electricity to carry out with their operations,” the TDAP chief remarked.
In the last two-to-four month period, the exports of leather, rice and textiles have improved in Punjab and Sindh as the industries are getting uninterrupted power supply. “I can assure you that there is no power and gas crisis in Punjab for the last three months as the government is supplying Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to all the industries,” he informed.
He said that the country’s exports of value-added textile products never declined as the textile industry is producing finished goods like t-shirts, children’s clothes and trouser-shirts throughout the country using their own power plants.
The TDAP chief, who is also the owner of Din group of industries (four textile mills) in Punjab, said that his group’s exports of leather and textiles stood above Rs 8 billion in the last ten months. According to him, his group has 26,000 employees.
While appreciating the efforts of the Pakistan Army and Rangers in significantly improving the law and order situation in major cities like Karachi and the tribal areas, the TDAP chief said that the continuation of such efforts was paramount for ensuring security and success of entrepreneurs.
“The country has been facing an energy crisis for the last 3-4 years which subsequently turned Faisalabad into a graveyard of industry with load shedding reaching up to 18 hours in some industrial areas. However, since the government is providing non-stop power now, the production does not get interrupted,” he said.
Muneer said that the industrialists and businessmen should appreciate the efforts of the current government which overcame the energy crisis in three years. He said there may be load shedding in residential areas, but industries are getting electricity without any hindrance.
He said that the government now has an agreement to import LNG from Qatar and other countries and, therefore, there will be no shortfall of energy.
Due to the law and order situation in Sindh and Punjab, businessmen lost 200 million in the last eight months. This, however changed during the last two months and his own business earned a profit of Rs20 million.
He said that the Pakistani stock markets have been declared the best in the world. On top of that the country’s inflation rate had reduced while foreign remittances had increased to $19 billion over the last ten months.
“The target of $35 billion given by the Federal Commerce Ministry seems like a difficult task to achieve unless the government helps the business community by improving and maintaining the improved law and order situation in the country – in which case the target would be achieved in a period of three years,” said the chief.
In order to remain competitive and thrive in the European/American markets, the cost of electricity in this country will have to be reduced or at least brought at par with other Asian countries like India and Bangladesh, he opined.
Regarding the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said that the decision of the prime minister will change the fate of this country and several industrial zones will be set up. He also said that there is a partnership between Chinese entrepreneurs and Pakistani businessmen whereby the Chinese will invest 70% in the CPEC agreements while the Pakistani business community will invest the remaining 30%.
The new network of roads in Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab and KP will boost industrialisation throughout the country and many foreign investors will come to Pakistan for investment which will consequently lead to new industries taking root in the country.
Before the law and order situation improved in Karachi, the TDAP chief said he was contemplating shifting to Lahore, but he changed his mind once the situation improved.
Regarding trade ties with India, he said, “I am in favor of trading with India but the Indians must reciprocate the feeling, which they don’t.”
He said he wanted to give the president’s seat of India-Pakistan Chamber to Indian businessmen, but is unable to do so since no Indian counterpart has come to Karachi over the last two years. He also said that Pakistan’s export to India is half of that which Pakistan imports from India.
He said Afghanistan is getting 85 per cent of goods from Pakistan. “Our country is still the cheapest country in the world even though we import twice of what we export. Most of the goods are being imported only for Afghan traders. Chinese businessmen also desire to dump their items in Afghanistan and its adjoining central Asian states,” said the chief.
“The Pakistani government should not give the Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to India since it would fail to fulfill its purpose which is to allow Pakistani businessmen to export to India. The Indian government will impose a tariff barrier which will seriously restrict Pakistani exporters from selling their goods across the border,” the TDAP chief said.
More than 410 million people in India are living below the poverty line, and if the Indian government shows the willingness to trade with Pakistan then their situation can be improved, he said.
“India-Pakistan trade is necessary because both countries have striking similarities in their cultures and the people are very much alike. Currently we are importing only cotton from India to fulfill our textile requirements but if India wants to trade properly with Pakistan it must allow exports from across the border.”
He said our exports have been increased to European countries through the special Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme, but on the other hand our overall exports have declined by 14 per cent.
He also mentioned the fact that Pakistan has recently improved trade ties with Central Asian states such as Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Some 8-10 trucks laden with oranges travelled through the war-torn Afghanistan to reach the Central Asian states amid security threats from the Taliban.
The TDAP is working in the Central Asian states including Russia to explore new markets. It is hoped that Pakistan may increase the trade to over $2 billion in the next fiscal year with regards to the Central Asian states.
Places like Ukraine are inaccessible for the Pakistani business community as per the orders of the European Union (EU) because of the war. It is also important to know that the Indians have a much stronger and older relationship with Russia and thus exert a considerable amount of influence in their business circles.
Replying to a question, he said: “Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of the country is linked with the improved law and order situation. If there is no terrorism in the country, Pakistan may get billions of dollars since the geo-strategic location of the country makes it a natural trade transit area between the gulf and the Central Asian states.”
He said that he is in favor of privatization of PIA and other loss making enterprises.
The TDAP has so far arranged 118 exhibitions throughout the world while its 100-member delegation visited different countries to boost the Pakistani exports. As many as 100-120 commercial councilors of the Authority are working day and night for improving exports and trade with other countries.