Country may register $20 billion exports

KARACHI : Despite massive devastation by floods, the country’ exports may surge to $20 billion this fiscal year. This was stated by Mohibullah Shah, Chief Executive (CE) of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) in an exclusive interview with Business Recorder on Tuesday.

The country’s exports are likely to register around six percent increase in the financial year 2011, as most of the fundamental pillars of the country’s economy have been saved,” he said. The country, which achieved record exports of $19.3 billion during last financial year, has the capacity to post another six percent growth by the end of June, 2011, he said.

Though the exports target of the current financial year has been set at around $21 billion in the ‘Trade Policy 2010-12’ with increase of 10 percent, the country could at least be able to enhance the export by five to six percent this fiscal year, the CE said. As major part of cotton, rice and other agricultural products have been saved from flood the country could continue the present resilience of economy if the government succeeded to reconstruct the destructed infrastructure, he added.

The picture of the country’s exports/economy in the coming month could be clearer in the crop of Rabi season in the next few months, Shah said. The major part of cultivated lands of cotton and rice had remained safe from the flood. As such, Basmati, the major exported kind of rice, would be available for export. Major part of mango and other fruits already remained safe from flood this season.

Besides, “bumper crop” was also expected throughout the country in the next crop season as the flooded soil would be more cultivable or fertilised, the CE said. The CE hoped that unlike the different estimates made by various organisations the country is expected to easily surpass the achievement of previous exports ($19.3 billion) in the financial year ending on June 30, 2011.

He said that though the export target of $21 billion was unlikely to be achieved, the country may post exports of at least $20 billion. He said that, beside the country’s traditional markets of the US and EU, the TDAP has focused the regions of Africa and Asia, as well as Russia and the CIS for its exports which have shown a historic growth. He suggested that the business community should change its traditional business outlook and explore markets for non-traditional, innovative, value-added products, and non-traditional markets of Asia and Africa.

It is worth mentioning here that in the three years trade policy under Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) the Ministry of Commerce had proposed at least 6 percent for the fiscal year 2009-10 and 10 and 13 percent for each of the successive year. However, the World Bank, on the other hand, estimated crop damage at $1 billion in the country, while other sources have forecast that the agricultural losses may top $3 billion, as rivers had swamped one-fifth of the country’s lands. -Brecorder