Pakistan needs non-conventional strategies to be an effective part of the international economic alliances, said Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Malik Tahir Javaid on Friday. In a statement, the LCCI president said that Pakistan’s exports were nothing as compared to the available resources. While quoting the trade statistics, he said that Pakistan’s exports and imports remained $ 23.2 billion and $ 60.86 billion, respectively, during July-June 2017-18 as compared to $20.42 billion exports and $52.91 billion imports during the same period of 2016-17. He said that though exports had risen during July-June 2017-18 as compared to July-June 2016-17, the figures were still not satisfactory because a number of countries, which had following Pakistan as economic model in 60s, were far ahead of the country. He added that a little increase in exports during 2017-18 never affected economy positively as trade deficit had also jumped to $ 37.64 billion in July – June 2017-18 from $ 32.48 billion in July – June 2016-17. “Smart moves have to be taken as Pakistan’s exports are hazardously low despite the fact that country has all the resources to become an ‘export power house’,” Malik added. The LCCI chief blamed lack of value addition, poor marketing, least interest in accessing new markets for Pakistani merchandise, high cost of doing business and bureaucratic hurdles for below-the-level exports and called for rectification measures. Malik said that a major part of Pakistan’s exports, particularly minerals, were in raw shape, causing a huge loss to the national exchequer, as finished goods could earn more foreign exchange than that of the raw materials. He added that the target could be achieved through investment in technology, skill enhancement and research and development. He underlined the need for good marketing techniques to dig-out large number of foreign buyers for Pakistani products, which are best of best quality in the world but are struggling due to lack of proper marketing. He urged the Pakistan’s Foreign Missions abroad to establish display centres for Pakistani goods, besides organising exhibitions for Pakistan products to secure due place in the global market. “Display Centres for Pakistani merchandise can highlight the industrial strength of the country around the globe, while cultural centres will attract foreigners to discover beauty and heritage of the land of pure.” He continued: “Gone are gone when foreign missions were working for just diplomatic relations. Now foreign missions of the developed countries are playing the role of economic ambassadors for their respective countries.” He said that Pakistan’s diplomatic relations would automatically strengthen with strengthening of trade and economic relations. He added that market and product diversification could lead Pakistan to make way in the global market. He said that Pakistan’s exports base was extremely limited and concentrated in five products namely cotton, leather, rice, synthetic and textile, and added that more than 60% exports earnings were being contributed by the textile industry. He urged the private sector not only to concentrate on promotion of regional trade but to explore huge untapped African market. “Pakistan occupies a strategic location and has ability to act as a major player in transforming the region into a trade and manufacturing hub.” The LCCI president said that the promotion of regional trade also offers promising benefits to the industry as it would enable it to source raw materials from the region that would ultimately reduce cost of production and create opportunities to improve economy of scales by having easy access to neighbouring markets. Published in Daily Times, August 11th 2018.