PESHAWAR-Stakeholders have called for the formulation of long-term trade policy and facilitation of the industry to promote national exports on a sustainable basis.

The call was made during a public-private dialogue (PPD) on discussing issues related to local trade and exports from Peshawar, the other day, said a press release issued here on Wednesday. The dialogue was organized under the auspices of the Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA) in collaboration with Small & Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA). The event was part of the project “Mobilizing Economic Reformers to Keep Critical Civic Space Open in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province” initiated by the CGPA. The session was aimed at gathering input on the issues faced by the business community of Peshawar and discussing the possible solutions with government officials concerned via an arrangement of Public-Private Dialogues (PPD). This was the 10th PPD event, focused on identifying the issues pertaining to local trade in Peshawar and issues hampering exports from Peshawar. These PPD sessions will be concluded with the formation of recommended policy for developing a conducive economic environment in Peshawar. 

Entrepreneurs from Peshawar, engaged in trading and exports, members of Sarhad Chamber of Commerce, Women Chamber of Commerce, Furniture Association, Livestock and Farmers Association, officials from KP Board of Investment Pakistan, Customs department, Industries department, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), Small & Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA), Pakistan Hunting & Sporting Arms Development Company (PHSADC – Ministry of Industries & Production), participated in the dialogue session. In his opening remark, Rashid Aman (Provincial Chief – SMEDA) highlighted the importance of Peshawar city and its trade potential with Afghanistan and Central Asian States. He added that the region had “huge potential” and its people were also “capable of harvesting upcoming opportunities”.   He said that in view of recent geopolitical changes in the region, Peshawar may become the trade route, holding the enormous potential to become hub of economic activities for the Pak-Afghan trade and the trade with Central Asian Republics (CARs). However, there was a dire need to address the issues hampering local businesses and limiting export opportunities for the Peshawar business community, he added.   An improvised ecosystem was the right answer to achieve desired results but side-by-side, there should be long-term and stable economic policies in the first place. “Export is the key area” that should be kept on top priority while making new policies, Aman emphasised. Giving his input, Senior Vice President Sarhad Chamber of Commerce (SCCI), stressed on the seriousness of the business community and the government for solving issues and quoted numerous prevailing business practices and government policies as the reasons “our country was losing business”. 

He highlighted that Pakistan’s trade share in the Afghanistan market was “decreasing day by day” while other neighbouring countries of Afghanistan were gaining “more share”. Same was the case with foreign investment, the senior VP bemoaned.

The session ended with pooling up valuable and practical suggestions from the participants.