A culture to be created in exports


Dec 16 - 22, 2002


Despite having a strong agricultural as well as manufacturing base substantiated with cheaper skilled manpower capable of producing sufficient export surplus, Pakistan never crossed the psychological barrier of $10 billion exports.

The exports figures usually remain below $10 billion in fact do not translate the actual potential the country has due to various reasons, however, on top of the list of impediments comes lack of quality, lack of production scale which helps reducing the cost of production and of course the lack of proper and aggressive marketing campaigns.

Realizing the later part of the shortcomings, the opinion leaders in the trade and industry as well as government quarters related to the export business have started taking initiatives to overcome the problem.

All said and done the fact remains that Pakistan has a earned a distinction in producing quality goods in different sectors such as sports goods, surgery items, leather made ups and garments, knitwear and the quality bed wares etc. On the agriculture side, Pakistan enjoys an out-standing position as a quality producer of "Basmati Rice"; juicy mangoes a citrus fruits which have carved a respectable place in the world market.

Leaving aside a few exceptions, majority of these items is being sold in the world market with out carrying the label of "Made-in-Pakistan" of carrying the brand name of the product. In most of the cases, some leading companies having a name in the world market are selling Pakistani goods under their brand names, hence they are the real beneficiaries of the premium they are fetching due to good will of their products.

It is understood that primarily Pakistan needs foreign exchange through its foreign trade whether the goods carrying the brand names or not. However, getting in a comfortable financial position, the situation demands that the country should harvest the rich crop and enjoy the fruit of the labor.

Working on these lines, efforts are being taken to create awareness among the exporters regarding benefits of the quality and proper marketing techniques for their products. Some US institutes are holding workshops in Pakistan to assist the trade and industry to make thing better and realize the need for ongoing quality improvement as the essential way forward.

In this respect, the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) has prepared a concept paper on development of a brand culture in Pakistan's exports.

The concept paper after giving the final touches would be submitted to the Export Development Fund Board for approval. It has generally been agreed by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Federation of Pakistan chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).

The concept paper was introduced by the EPB chairman at the meeting, stating that a majority of the Pakistani exporters were weak in marketing management and deficiency of financial resources was main cause behind it, therefore, there was a need to provide financial assistance to the exporters to meet the part of their expenditure on brand development.

The EPB proposed to undertake a pilot project for brand development for selected products and the exporters, willing to invest in brand development on 50:50 cost sharing basis.

The chairman requested the participants to provide their input, on the following points, to achieve the objective.

Branding of the products would be highly desirable and has to be achieved with the introduction of "Made in Pakistan" label first, on a sectoral basis and then introduce individual company brands.

The products should carry seals of quality (common seal or separate seals for specific/selected sectors) and create institutional mechanism to administer the seal. Seal of quality can be granted by the EPB as an accreditation agency against well-defined criteria.

For grant of seal of quality, reputed international companies may need to be hired for technical audit and certification in the mature export sectors, like textiles, leather, sports goods, stainless steel products, engineering goods and electronics.

For starters, there may be generic advertising, to be followed by sectoral promotion through commercials on electronic media like BBC, CNN, PTV, ARY etc)

To launch the campaign for branded items, a cell in the EPB would be created on the subject of quality assurance, conformity and compliance and provide marketing consultancy services including the subject of brand development with the help of institute of Business administration (IBA) Karachi and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMPS).

The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will need financial assistance for marketing and consultancy services.

--Start concept of branding with one or two sectors/ leather and textiles, implementing on the concept and on the basis of lessons learnt further improve the concept and extend it to other sectors.

After implementation of "Made in Pakistan" label on sectoral basis, introduce scheme for supporting advertising of individual brands. By that time, enough expertise would have been developed to address the issues of criteria and mechanism of administration of brand development scheme in Pakistan.