‘Regional trade will help improve employment opportunities’

LAHORE: Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan has said that regional trade will help generate trade and economic activities and create employment opportunities for the people in the region and also help reduce poverty.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the second edition of the Pakistan Mega Leather Show at the Expo Centre, he said that the government firmly believes in the revival of the economy and maintained that regional cooperation was important for the economic future of Pakistan.

Pakistani and foreign manufacturers from Italy, China, India, Germany, France, Brazil and European and Asian countries are participating in the second edition of the exhibition, a three-day promotional activity. Dastagir assured full cooperation from the government, saying Pakistan is among few South Asian countries, which ranks high in the World Bank indicators of ease of doing business.

On the occasion, Pakistan Footwear Manufacturers Association (PFMA) Chairman Waseem Zakaria said that the leather sector was the second largest export-oriented and value-added industry after textile in Pakistan. During 2014-15, he said that exports of the leather industry were $1.195 billion. Besides 5% contribution in exports, this sector also contributes 2.67% of GDP with over one million workers throughout Pakistan, he said.

He pointed out that the leather exports are stagnant in the last five years whereas exports of regional competitors have tremendously increased. In China, exports increased by 19%, 63% in India and 73.58% in Bangladesh in the last five years, he said. “This (data) clearly shows that our government is not giving priority to the leather sector.”

He said that the exports of the leather sector are now declining due to worldwide recession. “I request the government to take necessary steps to stop this declining by giving some incentives which are required to have level playing field with the neighbouring countries,” he said, adding that the exhibition would definitely portray and improve positive image of Pakistan at world level and to motivate leather business entrepreneurs for growth.

He said this exhibition would enhance confidence of investors in Pakistani markets, as people from across the world will attract towards the leather industry of Pakistan. Waseem Zakaria said that the exhibition – that would be dedicated to all sectors of the leather industry – would be a stepping stone, as this event would provide a perfect occasion for companies to show case their best products in front of local and international buyers.

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