By Zia Qureshi, Weekly Pulse Magazine, October 07, 2013
Expo Pakistan is the biggest trade fair in Pakistan, showcasing the largest collection of Pakistan’s export merchandise and services. Foreign exhibitors, from neighboring countries, also use this platform to launch their products. Held annually in September, the four day Expo Pakistan has become the primary sourcing point for a large number of businesses worldwide, giving them a head start on the buying and ordering for coming seasons.”
Despite fears about security conditions in Karachi, a large number of foreign buyers and local exporters met at the Karachi Expo Centre for the 8th annual Expo Pakistan – the biggest trade fair of the country.
Despite all the challenges, Pakistan’s exporters say they were satisfied with the number of foreign buyers who visited the exhibition on the first day. State Minister for Commerce and Textile Industry Khurram Dastagir Khan along with Commerce Secretary Qasim M Niaz inaugurated the Expo Pakistan 2013 at the Karachi Expo Centre on Sept 26.
“I would like to see a bigger expo next year with more focus on sectors like jewelry, textile and agriculture as these have a greater export potential,” Khan said after opening the exhibition. Exhibitors say the presence of foreign businessmen would have been exceptional had the deadly blasts not occurred just three days before the start of the exhibition. However, they were not disappointed.
At a time when foreign businessmen look hesitant, the exporters argue the Expo Pakistan is playing an important role in bridging the communication gap between them and foreign visitors.
“The government should continue to hold these exhibitions even if the exporters fail to reach the target for orders this year. We have to first work on our image as a viable export destination that has been shattered by security challenges in the country,” an exporter associated with the food industry told media.
“We exported $10 million worth of food products in 2011; today we are exporting goods valuing $40 million mainly to new markets where we have never shipped our products.
This comes in the wake of aggressive marketing by our food industry in the Expo Pakistan,” he added while commenting on the viability of the exhibition on which millions of rupees are spent every year. This is the biggest ever exhibition in terms of participation of local vendors and international buyers, organized by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).
Exhibitors suggest that the TDAP should ensure that every year new foreign buyers come to Pakistan because the exhibition is more an attraction for those who have never visited Pakistan.
Some exporters say Pakistan should not belittle the export orders coming from relatively new markets of Asia and Africa because the orders coming from these countries are growing at a more rapid pace compared to the developed markets of Europe and North America.
Approximately, 550 exhibitors from different industries are displaying their products and around 800 foreign buyers from over 70 countries are expected to attend the four-day event.
This year’s expo is covering industries like textile, fertilizer, gems and jewelry, auto manufacturing, marble, furniture, agricultural products and other export goods.
TDAP Secretary Rabia Javeri commented that last year’s exhibition featured 52 countries and saw signing of 70 agreements worth over $500 million. “This year, we are targeting to achieve even better results.” The TDAP is facilitating business-to-business (B2B) meetings between foreign buyers and Pakistan’s exporters.
Largest delegations have come from Japan and Malaysia with each having over 80 members. Prominent sectors that have attracted Japanese entrepreneurs include automobiles, engineering and consumer goods whereas Malaysian buyers are interested in more diversified sectors. Bangladeshi businessmen placed orders worth $8 million for Pakistani fans, kinnow and Basmati.
According to one agreement, GFC Fans has agreed to provide 150,000 fans to Nurul Islam, a Bangladeshi delegate representing Shuba Enterprises and Z&Z Corporation Bangladesh, a deal worth $5 million for fiscal 2014.
Another agreement amounting to $2 million took place between Tasho Enterprises Bangladesh and Roshan Enterprises Pakistan for Kinnow export to Bangladesh from November this year.
Tasho Enterprises – one of the biggest importers of fresh fruits, vegetables and dry fruit of Bangladesh – is visiting Expo Pakistan has placed an order of basmati rice to MATCO Rice worth almost half a million dollars.
Expo Pakistan is the largest trade event of the country and it is expected to attract a large number of foreign buyers this year.
Three Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) were signed between Pakistani exporters and Bangladeshi buyers at Karachi Expo Centre. Director Investment Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) Shahida Qaiser, DG Board of Investment Sindh Riazuddin Qureshi and Commercial Attaché of Pakistan in Dhaka, Farah Farooq were also present.
Earlier during the day, a Bangladeshi delegation informed Secretary TDAP Rabia Javeri Agha that Pakistani products have a huge demand, especially ladies fabric and designer lawns, footwear, pharmaceutical raw material and medicines, spices, marble etc.
Agha emphasized upon the need for more active interaction and linkages between corresponding chambers of commerce and trade bodies of both the countries to promote trade ties of both countries.
Bangladeshi delegation comprising 20 members is in Karachi attending Expo Pakistan 2013.
The businessmen are leading importers of food, sports, surgical goods, food processing and textile raw material, machinery and plants. Some of these importers are already importing goods from Pakistan.
This year buyers from other potential areas like marble sector, chain super stores/retail outlets and pharmaceutical, are also attending expo.
A leading fruit exporter commented that organizing such a big event in these days is a big job because nobody was expecting the event to be organized this year amid security issues in the country. Local exporters from the food industry were satisfied with the response they got from the foreign buyers.
Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP)’s secretary Rabia Javeri on Friday said that the meetings turned out to be very successful. She said there were total 13 delegations present from across North American and Asian regions.
Meetings were held to discuss various subjects such as strategies for the promotion of local exports, pros and cons of conducting business with Pakistan, trade policy issues and how to improve the competitiveness of Pakistani products for international markets qualification.
“These meetings are essential in creating long-term linkages with these international buyers. Also, these meetings help us understand on how to better position our local products in global markets,” she said, adding that “we are delighted to see the interest shown by the North American and Australian delegations as this opens up greater business opportunities for Pakistan.”
US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson led a high-level delegation participating in Expo Pakistan 2013, according to a press release by the Consulate. Ambassador Olson was joined by various other American envoys.
Ambassador Olson praised Expo organizers and spoke about the significant investment that the United States continues to make to help strengthen Pakistan’s economy.
“The United States is doing a tremendous amount of work to build the capacity of Pakistani exporters. Cooperation on this trade show is just one example of our commitment,” said Ambassador Olson. “I encourage all those Pakistani businesses present at Expo Pakistan to continue their efforts to find US buyers and attract US foreign investments that can help unlock Pakistan’s vast economic potential.”
The Expo’s US Pavilion showcases a number of USAID programs that aim to build Pakistan’s export capacity, especially in the areas of small- and medium-sized businesses and agricultural producers. The US Pavilion also represents trade promotion programs administered by the US Departments of Agriculture and Commerce. In addition, the US Pavilion features American representatives who provide a wealth of information on issues ranging from visas to trade preferences.
Over last seven years, Expo Pakistan has developed into a reputable international event, where over 2,000 Pakistani exhibitors and 3,000 foreign visitors, most of them representing large buying houses and reputable foreign brands have attended the event.
This fair is a one stop forum for the foreign buyers to view full range of Pakistan export products and develop long term business relations for enhancing exports from Pakistan.