Should Furniture Imports be Banned in Pakistan?

THE Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) has requested the government to impose a ban on furniture imports in Pakistan. The council has expressed this urge in order to promote local furniture industry and thus increase foreign income through furniture exports, through which a hefty amount of $8 million to $12 million is added every year to the local economy.

In 2015-16, Pakistan imported furniture products of worth PKR 1.69 billion, which according to experts is appalling for furniture exporters, as a lot of effort goes into realising furniture export deals.

According to PFC Chief Executive Muhammad Kashif Ashfaq, furniture imports are harmful for the local industry and they may lead to unemployment, making it difficult for workers and craftsmen to earn their livelihood.

Ashfaq is also of the view that Pakistan’s furniture industry flaunts opportunities galore, and if proper attention is paid by the authorities concerned to this promising sector, its growth is inevitable.

Fact: Nearly 50,000 people are employed in the furniture industry

This, somehow, justifies the PFC’s urge to ban furniture imports in the country because further increase in furniture imports will adversely affect these individuals. However, the other side of the story must also be heeded upon.

Many furniture retailers all across the country import furniture products largely from China and sell them in the local market. If furniture imports are barred, these retailers will be set at a disadvantage. Furthermore, trade ties with other countries may also be affected with this move.

The PFC is undoubtedly playing a significant role in boosting local furniture industry, but it should not snub those small furniture retailers that import furniture from China and other countries and make their ends meet (earn livelihood).

If a ban is imposed on furniture imports in Pakistan, those having franchises of international furniture brands in Pakistan will be forced to shut down their concerns.

Pakistan currently exports kitchen furniture and office furniture to Gulf countries and UK and bedroom furniture to US. The PFC is focusing on strengthening ties with Japan and European Union to propel furniture exports in these regions. Representative of the council also visited Turkey recently to meet furniture manufacturers in Bursa Turkey’s furniture hub). Now it plans to organise an international furniture expo in Lahore, starting from November 25. All the previous furniture expos held by the council proved to be a huge success and gathered furniture sellers, buyers, manufacturers and craftsmen under one roof.

The council’s substantial contribution to the furniture industry is splendid and is totally commendable. Its aim behind urging the government to impose ban of furniture imports does not seem mischievous and puckish, however, the council should also think of the importers that earn their bread and butter though furniture imports.

Let’s see how the government responds to this demand. Do you think furniture imports should be banned in Pakistan? Make sure you share your views in the comments section. And if you think imports shouldn’t be banned, let us know why!

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