KARACHI: With the digitization and improved efficiency of its marine departments, Pakistan is confident of boosting its exports, particularly of seafood, to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a top official at Pakistan Single Window (PSW) facility said on Thursday.
The PSW is the lead Pakistani agency that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents at a single-entry point to fulfill all import, export and transit-related requirements. The facility helps reduce the time and cost of doing business in Pakistan and makes trade-related business processes more efficient, transparent and consistent.
Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries are major recipients of Pakistani fish and fish products and the digitization would further boost exports to these countries, according to Naveed Abbas Memon, the PSW chief domain officer.
“We are very much confident that with digitized trade, the exports are bound to increase because those (Gulf) countries will be getting the documents from Pakistan which will be verifiable online,” Memon told Arab News.
“They will feel more confident about the Pakistani fish and fish products going to them so they can check that these goods have been properly inspected by the concerned department.”
In the first phase, Memon said, they had digitized four departments, including Department of Plant Protection, Mercantile Marine Department, Federal Seed Certification Department and Pakistan Quality Control Authority.
“In the second phase [completed in July], we digitized four more departments, which also includes Marine Fisheries Department that actually regulates exports of fish and fish products from Pakistan to other countries,” he said.
The digital QR code-enabled certificates are being issued after digitization for the importing countries so that they have more accurate and verifiable data, according to the official.
Pakistan’s fish and fish product exports increased by 15.2 percent to a record high of $496.3 million during the outgoing fiscal year ending on June 30 as compared to $430.8 million worth of seafood exports in the previous year, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
Pakistani fish and seafood exporters attributed the record exports to higher rates they fetched from the international market.
“This year, the fish landing was far better and the exporters were also able to fetch good prices,” Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, the Pakistan Fisheries Exporters Association (PFEA) chairman, told Arab News.
Some European and other countries had banned imports from Pakistan, otherwise the number would have gone far above the current level, Iqbal said.
He said the digitalization process had not only reduced the processing time, but it had also ensured paperless trade.
“The way digitization is facilitating exporters, they feel more encouraged, they feel less hassle and they are not required to physically go to the government departments,” Memon said.
“The processes which involved five to ten days, now those processes have been reduced to one to two days. So, in a way, the exports are being facilitated.”
Following the digitization of government bodies, importers would also now feel confident about placing orders with Pakistan, the PSW official hoped.
The drive would help integrate the PSW with other countries, including those in the Middle East, he added.