By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
In a recent turn of events, the government of Pakistan banned the import of luxury and non-essential items. This step was taken to strengthen the economy and stop the devaluation of the Rupee. While the step will and may have its consequences in one form or the other – or will have a positive impact – the current scenario must be explored.
While this step will reduce the country’s reliance on imports, do we have an industrial base where the same products can be manufactured? Pakistan has manufacturing zones and it has the resources to do so. The problem is that we never stood up as a country that produced goods and exported them to the world. Imagine a country like Vietnam exporting electronic goods (2021: US$50.8 billion); Machinery (2021: US$38.3 billion); and footwear (2021: US$17.8 billion).
If a country like Vietnam can do it, then why are we behind? The government’s decision to ban luxury items should be seen as a blessing in disguise. The concerned ministries of the government of Pakistan should join hands, collaborate and plan the production of goods that we can export to the region and the world. Competing against China will not be fruitful and not advisable, but we can export items to the countries in South Asia, Far East Asia, the Middle East, etc. We must focus our attention on building Pakistan as a brand – at the regional and global levels.
Moreover, our freelance and tech base is evolving and attracting billions of dollars annually. We must foster a plan to create regional offices of global tech companies in Pakistan so that these tech-based initiatives can attract foreign investment into Pakistan. The government’s emergency fiscal plan should turn into a Future Economic Plan to guide the country out of its monetary and economic predicaments, so it may stand without external help.