SYED MOHAMMAD TAHIR
LAHORE: Policy makers in Pakistan should give more emphasis to China than India to boost exports as China is a time-tested friend and it is historically proven that Hindus cannot be friends with Muslims of South Asia. India has imposed Non-Barrier Tariffs on Pakistani imports just to decrease the volume of shipments despite the fact that it had granted Pakistan Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status whereas China is keen to support Pakistan and wants to double the existing volume of trade between two countries.
These views were expressed by Dr Mohammad Adan Akram, Additional Collector, Mughalpura Dry Port while giving exclusive interview to Customs Today team recently.
Dr Adnan said that it was a good omen that our neighbouring country China had become world’s second largest economy that was importing raw material from world over. It is need of the hour that we should work on enhancing our exports to China as well as starting joint ventures for mega projects after completion of transfer of technology, he added.
“It is an open secret that the current trade volume of seven SAARC countries including India and Sri Lanka is less than China as it has become manufacturing hub of the world while India is striving hard to get status of a developed country. We are fortunate that China is our neighbouring country and we are in a position to enhance our exports to China up to our maximum level.”
Dr Adnan said the main objective of the Customs Department is to felicitate exporters and importers. “The Customs Department was not established to collect revenue by imposing duties on imports or exports. Instead, it was set up to facilitate exporters and importers of the country, to explore new markets in the world and search for new concessions for them in the world markets,” he added.
Dr Adnan suggested that government as well as exporters should take steps to export only value-added items instead of raw material. “Unless we do not give emphasis to finished items exports, we cannot survive.” He said it was encouraging that now local manufacturers and government officials were focusing on finished goods export, breaking last 60 years tradition. “Now Pakistan is exporting value-added garments to world but yet we are not exporting garments to our potential. Bangladesh, where even a single cotton plant is not growing, is far ahead in exporting finished garments to world fetching a considerable foreign exchange for them.”
While answering a query, Dr Adnan said that it was very difficult to boost trade ties with India as both countries were not taking this issue seriously. “History divulged that only one bomb explosion derails the process of reconciliation and only a single untoward incident puts both countries back to zero level. We should give preference to China in enhancing our exports as China is 20 times bigger economy as compared to India while our relations with China are not only exemplary and friendly but also very conducive. As China has already achieved its first phase of development and had entered into its second phase, so it needs immeasurable raw and semi-finished material that we can provide them easily. China has outdated basic industrial technology and has advanced in high-tech industries. Currently, China is manufacturing mobile phones, computers and processors. They have also dominated in Information Technology sector.”
He revealed that now China requires raw material like plastic and chips for its mobile and computer industries, so it is imperative to export raw material to China that can be used in its Information Technology sector. As IT industry is a sector whose pace of growth is accelerating with the passage of time, so we should get benefit out of this opportunity, he said.
“Currently, China’s GDP growth rate is around 6.7 per cent that has already touched around 10 per cent in recent years. On the other hand, India’s growth rate is less than 5 per cent and its 300 million population still is deprived of basic facilities like electricity and water. India, in fact, is in recession period. Sometimes, it comes out of recession for a short period and then once again falls into recession zone. Besides this, Indian currency is also in the dilapidated condition. In recent months, its currency has touched lowest ebb and is hovering to Rs57 against a dollar. All these facts suggest us that we should prefer China rather than India for bilateral trade to boost our exports.” Dr Adnan said that we should give emphasis to start bilateral trade with economically emerging countries like China, Indonesia and Malaysia.
While elaborating his point of view he said that almost all countries of the world are getting revenue from their corporate and income tax regimes rather than from Customs Department. The fact is that Customs duties are decreasing in the world with the passage of time, so we should also minimise our dependency on Customs revenue if we want to introduce real corporate and trade culture in our country.