Export Processing Zone Karachi termed cheapest free zone in world

Karachi: Investors from UAE have started shifting their business to Export Processing Zones in Pakistan due to higher cost of doing business in Dubai and Sharjah’s free zones, said Chairman, Export Processing Zones Authority EPZA, Tariq Hasan.

Speaking to the members of Korangi Association of Trade and Industry KATI on Wednesday, EPZA chief said that a number of Pakistani investors who set up their units at Jebel Ali Free Zone Dubai and Hamriyah Free Zone, Sharjah have either planned to return to their own country due to ever increasing cost of land and other expenses or have already shifted to Export Processing Zone Karachi.

He said that EPZ Karachi perhaps is the cheapest free zone in the world as it costs only Rs350 per worker per day to the investor. He informed that investors in UAE have intimated him free zones in UAE are about 45 per cent costlier than EPZ Karachi and they intend to return to their own country.

Tariq said that import of machinery to EPZ has become zero rated and now investors can import machinery without any customs duties. He further informed that EPZA is also trying to get relaxation of business ratio at 5050 to the tariff and nontariff areas in order to attract more investment to the zones.

He said that EPZ is providing one window facilities to the investors including all utilities including infrastructure and security.

He told KATI members that construction of Mehran Highway approaching to the EPZ, which remains abandoned for the last eight years, is now being constructed and would be completed in March this year.

He agreed to the proposal by the former Chairman KATI, Mian Zahid Hussain that the representatives from private sector should be taken on board in advisory committee of EPZA in order to turn this organization successful and attractive for the investors. He said that he would take up this matter soon and hold a meeting with the stakeholders at EPZ and include private sector representatives recommended by KATI.

He said that EPZ is one of the best export zone in the world as it charges only 1.5 per cent tax while import is totally free but unfortunately very few people know about EPZ in Pakistan due to sheer negligence by the commercial counsellors.

“Our commercial counsellors posted abroad are doing nothing for the country as they get posting mostly on the basis of influence and not on merit due to which they do everything except marketing for the country”, Tariq stated.

He said that EPZA is also setting up research and development cell for the purpose of strong marketing. He said that exporters from EPZ had earned $500 million last year, which he considered as not satisfactory and vowed to increase it in future.

The Chairman, KATI, Ehteshamuddin while appreciating the efforts of EPZA Chairman to bring investment to EPZ said that Tariq Hassan has done a lot to revamp and reorganize EPZA during his brief stint as EPZA chief.

He hoped that EPZ chief would take revolutionary steps to turn EPZ as a tough competitor to the free zones in UAE and other parts of the world. He further advised him to get the organization from the clutches of bureaucracy and make it more investor friendly.

Mian Zahid Hussain pointed out that despite massive facilities to the investors the export from EPZ is not even five percent of the country’s exports which is a point of concern and effective measures should be taken to match the export performance of EPZ with the facilities and exemptions given to the investors.

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