- At event in Karachi, Head of Alibaba.com Pakistan says massive opportunity exists for suppliers to start export journey
Majority of sellers, approximately 85%, from Pakistan on e-commerce platform Alibaba are based in Sialkot with around 63% of the country's overall number selling their products in the apparel category, it emerged at an event in Karachi on Thursday.
At the ‘Go Export with Alibaba.com’ event, experts also called upon manufacturers and traders belonging to other cities, and specialising in industries other than apparel, to utilise Alibaba, one of the largest global platforms for e-commerce, to increase their sales and widen their access to foreign markets.
“Despite our modest progress in Pakistan, there is still a massive opportunity for suppliers of high-quality products to start their export journey,” said Song Song, Head of Alibaba.com Pakistan.
Alibaba was founded in 1999 with e-commerce as its key business. It expanded into fast-growing sectors such as cloud services and internet of things in recent years and also owns AutoNavi, a large Chinese digital mapping and navigation firm.
The event highlighted the opportunities available to exporters, manufacturers, wholesalers, traders and retailers of Karachi aimed at expanding the digital business-to-business customers.
The main agenda behind the summit was to educate local manufacturers and businesses about the e-commerce export space and also talk about the capability of online export business.
“Through the platform, we encourage traders to grow beyond their domestic market and breach the digital space that holds a community of 40 million customers,” he added.
He said that SMEs in Pakistan, specialising in fields other than apparel, should utilise the digital marketplace to widen their market access and amplify sales through exports.
Song said that based on information from the World Trade Organization, Pakistan's B2B e-commerce market is experiencing rapid growth and its B2B segment is projected to achieve an annual growth rate of 28% in the next three years.
He added that the rupee depreciation has made exports viable for the country.
“Pakistan is one of our most important supplier markets given its geographical advantage, skilled labour force and budding entrepreneurial SMEs looking to export,” he said.
“We have notable growth in Pakistani suppliers on our platform over the past few years, and Pakistan is also among our top overseas supplier market.”
He lamented that only 3.3% of the total Pakistan exporters on the platform were from Karachi. He stressed that these dynamics should change.
Song invited Karachi-based exporters to embrace the e-commerce export route.
“Its time we look for new ways to do commerce,” he said. “We have to diversify our business and update it at the same time. We promising to invest as much resources as we can to transform Karachi into the next digital trade hub of the world.”
Trade and Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) Deputy Director Haider Zamin announced that TDAP would soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Alibaba.com.
“We look forward to drafting a holistic export policy that will not only promote export industry but also ensure collective good with our local as well as international stakeholders,” he said.
According to him, there are 5.2 million SMEs in Pakistan that add 40% to the GDP.
“There is a huge potential for e-commerce exports in Pakistan,” he said.