Pakistan has been Positioned Among the Regional Economies that Rack up the Lowest Revenue from Commodity Exports

The paradigm shift from aid-to-trade in national policy is no
doubt a forward step for economic growth, especially for developing countries
like ours. However, instead of producing worthwhile products through knowledge
based economy, the focus has always remained on imports. The country is prone
to pursue dependency on the produce of others instead of creating a demand in
the international markets for the “Made in Pakistan” products. Without being
able to create maximum jobs, businesses, local manufactures, domestic industry
or entrepreneurship opportunities for the bulging unemployed youth of the
country, it would be impossible to cope with law and order situation, militancy
and economic crisis.
Pakistan has been positioned among the regional economies
that rack up the lowest revenue from commodity exports as the United Nations
Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report states “A developing country
is considered a commodity dependent developing country when its commodity
export revenues contribute to more than 60 percent of its total good export
earnings”. The agency, however, found that Pakistan’s commodity exports as
percentage of merchandise exports are 25 percent, accounting for 2.8 percent of
the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The country is heading for economic hurricane as on one
hand, it is faced with enormous challenges such as illiteracy, poverty,
inequalities, corruption, energy and governance issues that have had a direct
negative impact on the economic development and growth of the country. On the
other, the country’s exports are being reduced as compared to imports, which
have increased; the deficit created, thus debts are mounting up. Pakistan needs
to rethink and reconfigure trading patterns for focusing on self-sufficiency.
The recent survey of Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce
and Industry (OICCI) shows slackness of the business confidence among the
business community. The government is unresponsive to the concerns of domestic
industry while from pharmaceutical to textiles and from autos to agriculture,
exports being languished, agriculture slumped and business confidence dropped.
The people are easily attracted towards foreign commodities and thus convinced
due to their brands, logos, quality and companies. The nationalistic approach
of marketing “Made in Pakistan” is altogether missing in the government agenda
which is the way forward for decreasing imports and increasing exports.
The contraction in agriculture growth across the country
during the last financial year has meant that anywhere between 50pc to 60pc of
Pakistan’s population which relies on farm incomes, was badly hit. Anecdotal
evidence from Pakistan’s rural belt has suggested a deepening of the crisis as
consumer spending significantly contracted. This ranged from accounts of
falling investments in farm inputs to farmers staying away from essential
periodic investments such as the purchase of tractors and other implements,
just to sustain themselves.
Meanwhile, the agriculture policy failure under the present
government has been driven mainly by misplaced priorities and a refusal to take
badly needed remedial steps. In other areas of macro choices, agricultural
policies at the federal and provincial levels remain hostage to a lack of
attention by members of the ruling structure. Without ensuring a sufficiently
widespread participation of key sectors of the economy, any upturn as recently
claimed by the government will remain unconvincing.

The Author is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.

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