KARACHI: Pakistan’s embassy in Saudi Arabia plans to set up an e-commerce gateway to promote locally manufactured products in the South Asian country and take advantage of the kingdom’s burgeoning market, a senior official told Arab News earlier this week.
Pakistan is Saudi Arabia’s fourth major trade partner and accounts for 1.2 percent of the kingdom’s exports-- consisting mainly of petroleum and petroleum products. The country contributes 0.3 percent to Saudi imports, according to the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“The post-Covid scenario presents a very favorable trend in Saudi Arabia where most customers have started preferring online shopping,” Azhar Ali Dahar, Minister Trade and Investment at the embassy, said on Thursday.
“Connecting the idea of chain stores with service delivery at home, the trade mission is planning to launch the e-commerce platform along the lines of Noon and Souq in Saudi Arabia.”
The online platform will help residents of Saudi Arabia order particular products available in Pakistan which will then be shipped by local companies.
“The online gateway will be exclusively established for Saudi Arabia to ensure the availability of Pakistani products in the kingdom,” he continued.
The equipment and online system for the gateway were delayed due to the suspension of international flights amid COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“The kingdom is now all set to lift these constraints which will help expedite the project,” Dahar said.
Pakistan’s central bank removed the condition of lengthy documentation for small exporters in December to facilitate Business-to-Consumer (B2C) exports from Pakistan.
“This step by the State Bank of Pakistan will simplify things for exporters who will be able to dispatch their products in small quantities to Saudi consumers without going into lengthy details,” Dahar observed. “This is a timely move and will boost exports from Pakistan.”
The official said authorities were also seeking support from courier companies that were not just operating in Pakistan but also maintained a more global presence.
“Saudi courier services are excellent,” he said. “Anything that crosses the Kingdom’s frontier is taken care of without delay. Prompt delivery of goods is our prime target through the platform.”
“In order to make this online platform successful,” Dahar continued, “we require the interest and cooperation of Pakistani traders and manufacturers who want to display their products on Pakistani gateway portal in Saudi Arabia.”
Pakistan’s imports from Saudi Arabia increased by 125 percent to $347 million in December, while its exports posted a decline of one percent during the same month, according to the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.
“It is a timely initiative to develop this platform since bilateral trade between the two countries requires a new push,” Shahid Ahmed Laghari, chairman of the Pakistan‐Saudi Arabia Business Council, told Arab News on Friday. “It will significantly enhance the presence of Pakistani goods in the Saudi market.”