More than eight percent growth in textile exports during July-Jan 2021 is quite impressive despite the negative impact of COVID-19, as the export-oriented sector continues to attract new investments to create jobs and improves industrial expansion. These vies were expressed by Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi while addressing a meeting of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab office here today. He lauded the role of the textile industry for the economic turnaround of Pakistan, saying that Prime Minister Imran Khan has focused on the export-oriented sector to put the economy back on track. Central Chairman APTMA Adil Bashir and Chairman North Zone Abdul Rahim Nasir also addressed on the occasion. Ali Haider Zaidi said that his ministry was working on improving the efficiency of ports in the country and made Pakistan a hub for transit trade in the region, especially in areas like cargo scanning, delivery, loading, in/out gate timings etc. Ali Haider Zaidi also shared details on the world-class facilities available at the country’s ports and their digitization and other services. He said new initiatives in the logistics sector, including the setting up of a new freight company, are under consideration of his ministry. Work on the integration and connectivity between Sea Ports and Dry Ports on a real-time basis is also underway, he added. According to him, adequate port structure and value-added services at ports are being put in place to contribute toward trade facilitation and improve Logistic Performance Index of the country from the current level of 2.42. Earlier, APTMA leadership pointed out the issues like reluctance by port authorities to waive demurrage even after custom delay/detention certificates, reduction in container and customs dwell times to reduce costs. Chairman APTMA said cargo transshipment to Dry Ports in Punjab has plunged and business is reverting back to Karachi due to levy of Cess, which is needed to be addressed immediately. Also, he proposed the minister to allow an online system in all shipping lines for submission of empty containers at Lahore yard instead of Karachi. Reduction in the bonded carrier charges, availability of chemical tests facilities at all Dry Ports and handling as well as collection charges and Sea Port charges for transshipped cargo at Dry Ports were a few more suggestions he put forward on the occasion. Similarly, Chairman APTMA Punjab Abdul Rahim Nasir said the federal government should adopt measures to increase cotton production to 20 million bales per annum, make available PSF and other MMF at globally competitive prices, and restore sales tax zero-rating for export-oriented sectors. Digitalization: President of Huawei Middle East Region Charles Yang called on Minister for IT and Telecommunication, Syed Amin Ul Haque and discussed matters of mutual interest. The Huawei delegation lauded the efforts of the minister regarding digitalization, Mr. Syed Amin Ul Haque said that: “Steps are underway by the government for connectivity and provision of internet services across the country for 5G network in coming years.” Federal Secretary for Ministry of IT and TelecommunicationMr. Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui,Deputy Secretary, Aftab Rasheed,Director Telecom, Jehanzeb Ahmed were also present from the Ministry’s side.President of Middle East Enterprise Business department, David Shi, Huawei Pakistan CEO, Mr. Mark Meng, Deputy CEO, Ahmed Bilal Masud were also present at the occasion. Furthermore, both sides discussed the 1,000 officers training program initiative, in which a 1,000 of the ministries officers would be given ICT knowledge training by Huawei’s industry leading teams to help increase their ICT skill. The Minister appreciated Huawei’s effort for the training program. President Huawei Middle East, Charles Yang said, “The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has Huawei’s full support, with the help of our secure and leading solutions, we can help Pakistan realize digital transformation, especially benefittingthe people from rural areas.” Both sides also discussed possibilities of future collaboration including the development of an innovation lab and other programs.