ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Tuesday that the country would be able to achieve a $20 billion export target in next three to five years and urged the business community to take full advantage of investment friendly policies and capture new markets by improving quality and standards.

The prime minister was addressing the 28th Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Export Trophy awards distribution ceremony here at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat.

Mr Aziz, appreciating the contribution of business community in achieving the targets of exports in previous years, hoped that exports would be more than the target of $13.7 billion fixed for this year. He said a $20 billion export target is an achievable goal as Pakistan has the best quality of entrepreneurs and the growth rate has been improving.

Mr Aziz said two export processing zones, one in Sindh and one in Punjab, are being set up while the present Karachi export zone is being upgraded to provide maximum possible facilities to the exporters to play more active role in national economy and further promote exports.

The prime minister said another export processing zone will be set up at Gwadar and added that government has also liberalised the economic policies and is providing maximum incentives and facilities to the business community.

The prime minister said due to positive investment growth in the country, there has been an increase in the export of all products. He said the unit value of the rupee remained at the level of last year, which is a clear indication of the efforts of exporters. Mr Aziz said improved quality, proper packing and production of value-added products, can improve Pakistani exports.

Latin America markets: He said President General Pervez Musharraf during his current visit to Latin American countries, US and Britain talked about the expansion of bilateral trade with these countries.

Mr Aziz said previously trade with Latin American countries was negligible and hoped that after the recent visit of President Musharraf, trade relations will be strengthened. He said President Musharraf during his brief stay in Washington, also discussed with President Bush the promotion of trade between Pakistan and America. He said UK is an important member of European Union and added that Pakistan also talked about promotion of trade relations with UK. The prime minister said during his recent visit to SAARC countries, he discussed the ways and means to promote trade with these countries. He said the government would provide full assistance and cooperation to the business community and exporters to find new markets. He said during his forthcoming visit to China, he would also discuss the aspects of bilateral trade promotion.

Cost of production reduced: Referring to liberal economic policies in Pakistan, the prime minister said these policies have reduced the cost of production. He said the government would simplify the procedures for setting up new industries and boosting exports.

He said there is still a need to bridge the gap of shortage of skilled staff and added the government is concentrating to fill this gap with the setting up new institutions for skilled training. Referring to incentives and facilities for the investors, the prime minister said road and rail links in the country are being improved and added that the Gwadar Port will be operative in the first quarter of next year.

Source: Daily Times