President Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Irfan Iqbal Sheikh Sunday urged the government and private sector to join hands for raising Pakistan’s forest cover from 5pc to 25pc to meet the ever-growing needs of furniture industry in the country. Talking to Mian Kashif Ashfaq, CEO Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) in Lahore, Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said currently, furniture and local industries were experiencing serious supply shocks which were not only impeding their further growth but also adversely affecting their international competitiveness. As the global economy is expected to be more challenging this year in wake of Covid 19, he urged the furniture industry to remain resilient by innovating, adopting technology as well as diversifying export markets in order to sustain demand in the long run. “We have to overcome challenges to strengthen our market share; we must continue to produce innovative and market-oriented products to meet challenging times,” he added. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said in the absence of enough supplies of wood, cheaper furniture made of fancy and laminated sheets of chipboard had flooded the local market. He said wooden furniture like that of shishum wood, was quite expensive that is why Shishum’s furniture was made for selected buyers only. Mian Kashif informed the FPCCI Chief Pakistan needs mass tree plantation at plain, hilly and other barren areas with the active participation of private sector and government to meet the demands of the growing furniture industry. He said about 500,000 workers were engaged in forestry sector, and its related business such as logging, carpentry, and timber products manufacturing, and tourism and the forests contribute only 0.3pc to GNP due to low area. Kashif said the Pakistan furniture industry had the potential to be a substantial one at multiple levels as it could contribute significantly to the GDP and employ numerous people with varying skills in specially designed furniture. He lauded the Pakistani furniture designers, craftsmen and suggested that these experts should play their part in enhancing furniture exports. “The country has excellent craftsmen and designers, who can virtually give life to a piece of wood,” the CEO PFC said, adding that Pakistani craftsmen should work in this particular area to earn much-needed foreign exchange”. Kashif Ashfaq said PFC planned to hold 13th Interiors Pakistan’s mega exhibition soon, which is aimed at exploring new opportunities for enhancing volume of mutual trade in furniture sector.Agencies Plastic material export witnesses 42.30pc increase during last 11 months Plastic material exports during the first eleven months of fiscal year of 2021-22 grew up by 42.30pc as compared to the exports of the commodity during the corresponding period of last year. During the period from July-May 2021-22, Plastic material worth $385,643 were exported as compared to the exports of $271,014 during the same period of last year. According to the data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the exports of Chemicals and Pharm. products increased by 35. 53pc, worth $1,368,760 as compared to exports of $1,009,935 during the same period of last year. Meanwhile, Pharmaceutical exports also increased by 1.64pc as the exports during current fiscal year recorded worth $244,721 as compared to the exports during the same period of last year which recorded $240,783. During the period under review, others Chemicals increased by 48.23pc, worth $738,396 in current fiscal year, as compared to the exports of valuing $498,138 of the same period of last year.