PBC's Contours of a National Charter for Exports-Digital

As part of its “Make-in-Pakistan” thrust, the Pakistan Business Council (PBC) has been advocating fundamental reforms to create jobs, promote value-added exports and encourage import substitution.

In the “Contours of a National Charter for Exports”, the PBC outlines the directions that a long-term export policy must take. “Do nothing new” is not an option. A “business unusual” approach is called for.

The export policy must be owned and monitored by the Prime Minister to give exports the importance that it clearly deserves. And this policy or charter should be empowering rather than controlling, as many of the policies impacting businesses in general, and exports in particular have been controlling and restrictive in the past.

Secondly, Pakistan needs to invest to grow exports. This requires a shift from retrospective investment, meaning a percentage of realized export proceeds being utilized for this purpose, to prospective investment, requiring up-front investment in the well premised strategies of higher and more diversified exports.

Finally, it also means a more enlightening policy on buying and developing brands as also in allowing exporters to warehouse goods abroad and not being prosecuted for delayed remittances and bad debts. Certainly, integrating into the fast-growing online portals abroad will require a totally different approach than hitherto.

In a nutshell, the PBC urges a quantum change from suspecting, doubting, untrusting and controlling to an empowering and more brand-led risk-taking approach. At the same time, PBC recognizes that in the past some unscrupulous exporters have misused policies. It is a sad fact that “Made-in-Pakistan” carries a negative perception abroad.

The PBC therefore advocates an in-depth engagement with responsible exporters to develop checks and balances leading to high standards of governance and accountability. Denying the formal, responsible and accountable sector from benefits of an empowered policy because of misuse by others in the past is not valid.