LAHORE: Pak-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) founder President Shah Faisal Afridi on Monday suggested that digitalising and revolutionising small industries should be the new SME policy, adopted by Pakistan.
In a meeting with PCJCCI President Wang Zihai and Vice President Moazzam Ghurki here, he said that it was in domestic markets and small industries that all sorts of innovation and entrepreneurship could take place which later would move out and lead to higher exports and foreign exchange earnings.
Afridi opined, “The small shopkeepers, pushcart owners, unskilled labourers make the largest number of small and medium enterprises. If we make this sector boom, we will have a more egalitarian development.” He also suggested that trade policy should not only be for promoting exports but for promoting all trade both at home and abroad. “We have to redesign our trade policy, centred to encourage competition, create opportunities and provide an enabling environment for domestic markets to flourish in an innovative and exciting new approach,” he added.
The PCJCCI founder president said the domestic markets and small industries in Pakistan primarily included retail and wholesale traders, restaurants and hotels, construction, transport storage and communication, financial and real estate and personal services.
He said this was the sector where the poor and middle class were hidden, and “we do not need to reinvent the wheel; it is only through competition with foreign markets and services that our domestic markets will improve and benefit through knowledge spillovers, learning by doing and exposure to new technologies and management systems”. He advised the public and private sectors to follow a vibrant vision of transforming Pakistani cities into dynamic commercial hubs in the region – a tourist destination, a shopping centre, regional headquarters for multinational corporation etc.
“We in Pakistan must encourage fresh thinking and allow technical people into government to make good things happen,” he asserted. On the occasion, Wang Zihai 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 that in several East Asian countries including Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and China, spaces were allocated for temporary stalls to be set up resulting in the now famous night markets, and these vibrant markets were one of the biggest tourist attractions in their cities. Moazzam Ghurki said that before making a policy, it should be investigated that why locally successful brands had been unable to become well-recognised brands globally.
He appreciated Afridi’s idea of more small markets and bazaars 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, which generates valuable foreign exchange for the economy.
It was jointly agreed that the proposed strategy should be focused on improving the quality and quantity of wholesale and retail outlets, ultimately linked to urban management and land use. These policies would definitely transform the current scenario of domestic market with special focus on promoting successful business through encouraging trade, entrepreneurship and innovation and providing fair and efficient markets for the welfare of all Pakistan.