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26 December 2018

ISLAMABAD: Amid focus on austerity measures to achieve revenue and fiscal deficit targets, the government announced on Tuesday that a comprehensive industrial policy is on the cards which will create an enabling environment for broad-based industrialisation and encourage innovation in a wide range of sectors. The broad contours of the draft will be shared by end December or early January next year while the policy will be announced by June 2019, Adviser to the Prime Minister for Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood said at a news conference. He was accompanied by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari.

Mr Dawood and Mr Bukhari briefed the media about the resumption of British Airways flight to Pakistan from June 2019. Mr Dawood spoke at length about the proposed industrial policy and its impact to encourage exports of engineering products from the country. So far the country has no industrial policy which has resulted in a lack of predictability for the sector. A draft policy was evolved by the Planning Commission in 2009 but this was later discarded. A similar draft National Industrial Policy (NIP) was approved in May 2011. However, the government has kept the policy on back burner. Mr Dawood said the proposed industrial policy will be designed to encourage investments in the country especially the export-oriented sectors. The focus of the new policy will be to encourage exports from the engineering sector, he said.

He added that it was not possible that textile sector alone can help Pakistan enhance its export proceeds to a reasonable good numbers. He elaborated that there was great potential for exports of electronic appliances and motor vehicles. He said that despite this potential, Pakistan is not exporting from these two sectors. “We have already started export of tractors to Mozambique and Zambia. Our next target is motorcycles and electronic appliances exports from the country,” he added. Pakistan’s current exports of cement are 5 million tonnes and these will be enhanced to 20m tonnes by 2023, he said, adding: “We have already made a plan for achieving this target.” He said the focus of the policy will be to offer long-term predictable incentives for investors and promote exports from the country. “We will correct the duty structure on raw materials,” the adviser assured. Answering a question, he said the depreciation of rupee will give strength to export proceeds and the exporters will benefit from it.

However, he said, the rupee is now stabilised. He said two high officials of the Ministry of Commerce will leave for China to work out details with the Chinese officials regarding market access. On the issue of encouraging international tourist arrivals, Mr Dawood said the government was working on a policy to offer on-arrival visa to 55 countries. He said the facility will not be linked with reciprocal offer from identified countries. “We will take the summary to the Cabinet early next year for approval,” the adviser said, adding the country’s security agencies will also be taken on board on the issue. The adviser also showed his displeasure over the performance of export sector. Imports are going down, the trade gap is shrinking and this will be more pronounced in the coming months, he said. Meanwhile, Mr Bukhari said that he has sent a summary to the Federal Board of Revenue to allow more duty free mobile phones for overseas Pakistani. He said the issue is still under consideration. Talking about the exports of humans, the special assistant said the government was considering various proposals to facilitate exports of skilled labour to developed countries. He, however noted that the country lacks skilled labour. He further said the available quota of 100,000 labour exports to Qatar will be availed completely.