Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Mian Nauman Kabir on Monday said that the trade-in local currencies, particularly with China, will help Pakistan minimize the burden of relying on USD in bilateral trade and bring down the trade deficit. He was addressing an interactive session with Lahore Economic Journalists Association (LEJA) at Lahore Chamber. LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan, Vice President Haris Ateeq, President LEJA Muhammad Sudhir Chaudhry, LEJA body members, and LCCI Executive Committee Members Ali Afzal and Ateeq-ur-Rehman also addressed on the occasion. LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir reiterated that the trade-in local currencies, particularly with China, will help Pakistan minimize the reliance on USD in bilateral trade and bring down the country’s trade deficit also. He said that devaluation in the Pak rupee has been recorded against the USD during the ongoing financial year. He said that the trade deficit was one of the major reasons for rupee devaluation and urged the government to take solid steps to arrest the flight of the dollar as this would also reduce the pressure on foreign exchange reserves. He said that the currency swap agreements with regional countries and Russia will help make Pakistani currency stronger as a weak rupee against the USD has become a matter of concern for the economy. Mian Nauman said that the Pak rupee devaluation made the imports of raw materials and other necessities for the industrial sector costlier. LCCI President said that Pakistan’s mutual trade volume only with China was more than USD 13 billion and if the country enters currency swap agreements with regional countries in general and with China in particular, it will significantly lift pressure off the foreign exchange reserves and dependency on the dollar will decrease. LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said, “We have to make the role of SMEs meaningful to enhance our exports.” He added that the government should provide a conducive business environment and facilities to the SME sector. SMEs have only six percent of the total credit being given to the private sector, he said. He called for the promotion of renewable energy sources to reduce dependence on costly electricity through thermal means and to reduce the oil import bill. He said that the government should also make the price control mechanisms effective to control inflation. LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan and Vice President Haris Ateeq called for a national economic policy to cope with the economic challenges, saying that all the segments should be on one page on this issue. They said that all the stakeholders must be taken on board while formulating this policy. The LCCI office-bearers said that COVID-19 posed extraordinary challenges for the economies around the globe and forced Pakistan to go to the IMF because of the economic scenario. They said that the government will have to promote the documented economy. The LCCI office-bearers said that non-traditional sectors, particularly pharmaceutical, engineering and halal food should be focused upon to give a quantum jump to the exports. He said that product and market diversification is the need of the hour. They also shed light on the priorities for the ongoing year, saying the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry focused on trade as well as industry.