This blog is written by Mr. Syed Asim Habib. Please read this blog and provide your valued comments
MINIMIZING TRADE DEFICIT
It is a fact that Pakistan’s position and performance on the Global Trade Ranking has been disappointingly low. There are many perpetual trade deficits in shape extreme modest export earnings versus colossal import bills.
There are two ways of truing the deficit around. One is abating imports and the other is incentivizing exports. Unfortunately, due to one reason or the other, the later route has not been adopted in our country so far at least.
While giving a quick glance at the regional numbers, the performance at this front even looks more bleak. The fact of the matter is that the comparison is drawn while keeping in mind that the economies of most regional countries are kicked of either with us or in some cases after us and possess more or less identical environments. Reasons of not able to releasing maximum export potential may be countlessly listed. However, some are discussed in this blog hereunder:
The causes are divided into two parts. One those related to policy and strategy which largely are at the helm of government and the Second is operational which are at the shoulders of the businessmen.
- Non-existence of Long-term export policy
- Appalling Economic decisions
- “Managed” forex Exchange Rates
- Exorbitant Energy Prices
- Limited value addition measures of products
- Limited investment on Research and Development
- Emphasis on Labor Forced Technology instead of automation.
- Limited Focus of Quality Control and Quality Assurance.
Prevailing awful trade performance can be improved by devising cohesive promotion strategy, which echoes with existing strengths and also establishing a new competitive advantage. The volume of exports should be increased along with the range of products.
Creating and harnessing a business-friendly economic policy together with marginalizing energy tariffs for export sectors will result in bringing the cost of production to a level of competitiveness. At the same time, a comprehensive strategy to implementing Market-based Exchange Rate, where regulator acts as watchdog instead of dictating market will also help exporters to get increments in their profit margins.
Bringing diversity into the export range is also essential. Without doing was the conventional ranges of Textile, Sport Goods leather etc, both the authorities and the businessmen should look towards other sector including telecom, IT, Pharmaceutical and renewable energy etc.
Building a buyer’s confidence and winning their trust is the central theme of each country’s exports. Unfortunately, at our end, neither our authorities nor our business did enough to meet this fundamental requirement.
Moving forward, better scrutiny measures can be adopted which ensures only quality products are shipped outside Pakistan. Government may incentivize R&D departments of private sectors, while private entities allocate nth percent of their profits into joint R&D divisions. The government can legislate on the subject making quality certifications mandatory for the companies to operate. It can also award subsidies to the producers that rigidly abide by quality standards. Besides, strict quality control measures can be enforced even for the local production so that the producers become quality conscious, which will have a trickle-down effect on each worker and will help in building International Buyer’s confidence.
Vocational Training Institutes which are already operational in many parts of the country can be transformed with latest equipment and technology. Again the pool of investment may be built on public-private sectoral partnership.
In the end, in list of War Diplomacy, Cricket Diplomacy, Music Diplomacy, we should try to add Economic Diplomacy in our national priorities. Leverages at the level of Foreign relations can be used to ensure implementing effective selling and marketing techniques in friendly countries. Some brain storming is also needed by Foreign Office “Gurus” on the question why Pakistan is unable to improve its trade revenue even with its “so called” friendly countries, whereas some of other countries share massive trade revenue despite their animosity.
It is a forgone conclusion that Pakistan cannot curtail its imports for a prolonged time period, because of unprecedented domestic, commercial and industrial dependency. However, the government should also make necessary arrangement to maintain fine margin between saving domestic producers and liberating the importers to a manageable level.
Syed Asim Habib
September 8, 2020