The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has expressed concern over the falling exports of the country which have come down to $20.8 billion during the financial year 2015-16 as compared to $23.7 billion during 2014-15 and called upon the government to take urgent measures to arrest this dangerous trend as the dwindling exports will put pressure on the foreign exchange reserves and create more problems for the economy.
ICCI President Atif Ikram Sheikh said that 12.24 per cent annual decline is unprecedented in the recent export history of the country and stressed that the government should conduct a candid analysis of the export sector to diagnose the major reasons of its poor performance and to take corrective measures.
He said that falling exports and rising imports would increase the trade deficit and push the country towards more dependence on external borrowing. He stressed that the government should focus on removal of inefficiencies in the export sector and improve ease of doing business in order to attract more foreign investment and revive exports.
Atif Ikram Sheikh said that our current export portfolio was marred by a lack of diversification and the country was mainly dependant on textiles and some other products for exports. He said that textile exports now have only 4.1 per cent share in the world trade whereas the engineering sector has 34 per cent share in international trade, but the share of Pakistan’s exports of engineering goods is quite nominal.
He said there is an urgent need of bringing major structural reforms in the exports sector and focusing on diversification because the existing composition of exportable items cannot bring about significant improvement in exports
He said that another problem with the export sector was that our exports were dominated by primary and intermediate goods rather than value-added finished products as 74 per cent of food items and 40 per cent exports of textiles were primary commodities.
He urged that the government should develop a long-term exports strategy by focusing on major structural reforms, enhancing share of high tech and innovative products in exports, improving quality, creating value through designing and branding and market diversification by paying more attention towards unexplored markets of Central Asia, South America and Africa.