Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry for focusing on intraregional trade to arrest widening trade deficit

Islamabad, April 14, 2016 (PPI-OT): The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry has shown concerns over the rising trade deficit of the country which has risen by 5.5% to $16.9 billion during the first nine months of the current fiscal year and called upon the government to focus on promoting intraregional trade as there was a huge potential for Pakistan to promote exports with regional countries. Pakistan’s imports have continued to outpace the falling exports.

Atif Ikram Sheikh, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that many regional economic blocks were reaping rich benefits by promoting intraregional trade but the South Asia was the least integrated region as its intraregional trade was just 5% of its total trade as compared with 58% in EU, 52% in NAFTA, over 50% in East Asia 26% in ASEAN. He said if tariffs and non-tariff barriers were removed, South Asia could witness significant jump in regional trade.

He identified complex customs procedures and quality standard regulations, inefficient transport arrangements, institutional incapacities, different kinds of standardization and certification processes, unhealthy duty structure, packaging/labelling requirements, long negative lists and political factors as the major non-tariff barriers in South Asian countries that needed urgent redress to pave way for enhanced regional trade.

ICCI President said intraregional trade was beneficial for all regional countries as it was more price-competitive compared to importing from other countries. He urged that Pakistan should work with South Asian countries to harmonize and regulate customer’s procedures and remove all NTBs. He said removal of NTBs and other infrastructure related issues deterring regional trade would be a win-win situation for all regional countries as it would enhance the welfare and prosperity of their producers and consumers.

He said South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement was signed to facilitate free trade among South Asian countries, but its weak enforcement has deprived the people of this region from its positive impact on employment, income opportunities and cheap products. He was of the view that promoting intraregional trade would further contribute in expanding exports and increasing regional growth. All these efforts would also strengthen global integration of the South Asian countries and lead to their better economic growth. He stressed that all possible efforts should be made to realize untapped trade potential of this region.

For more information, contact:
Khalid Chaudhry
Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI)
Chamber House, Aiwan-e-Sanat-o-Tijarat Road,
Mauve Area, G-8/1,
Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel: +9251 225 0526, 2253145, 8432676
Fax: +9251 225 2950