Experts call for revolutionising SMEs to boost exports

ISLAMABAD: Experts at a think-tank session held at Pakistan China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) suggested that Pakistan should adopt the policy of digitalising and revolutionising small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to boost exports.
PCJCCI President Moazzam Ali Ghurki suggested that innovation and entrepreneurship could take place in domestic markets and small industries, which later would move out and lead to higher exports and foreign exchange earnings. He said swift development can be achieved by empowering and supporting small business owners.
Moazzam suggested that trade policy should not only promote exports, but all trade, both at home and abroad. “We have to redesign our trade policy to encourage competition, create opportunities and provide enabling environment for domestic markets to flourish in an innovative and exciting new approach,” he maintained.
The PCJCCI president observed that domestic markets and small industries in Pakistan primarily include retail and wholesale traders, restaurants and hotels, construction, transport storage and communication, financial, real estate and personal services.
“It is only through competition with foreign markets and services that our domestic markets will improve and benefit through knowledge spillovers, learn by doing, and gain exposure to new technologies and management systems,” he said.
Moazzam highlighted that before policymaking, it should be investigated that why locally successful brands had been unable to become well-recognised ones globally. He supported the idea of more small markets for local vendors and traders, and said that bazaars not only provide new opportunities and space to set up business for entrepreneurs, but also promote local arts and crafts and attract tourists.
The PCJCCI Vice President Hamza Khalid suggested that the public and private sectors should follow a vibrant vision of transforming Pakistani cities into dynamic commercial hubs, tourist destinations, shopping centres, and regional headquarters for multinational corporations, etc.
“We in Pakistan must encourage fresh thinking and allow technical people into government to make good things happen,” he said.
“When we look at the success stories of international brands and innovative individuals behind them, we see that many have started off from humble beginnings,” he added.
Hamza mentioned that in several Asian countries including Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and China, spaces were allocated for temporary stalls to be set up, resulting in the now famous night markets, and these vibrant markets are one of the biggest tourist attractions in their respective cities. He said entrepreneurs and innovators need neighbourhood markets to make quality products, brands and recipes, which they would then export.
The PCJCCI Secretary General Salahuddin Hanif said the proposed strategy should focus on improving the quality and quantity of wholesale and retail outlets, ultimately linked to urban management and land use.