ISLAMABAD    -   Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are essential to economic empowerment, can benefit greatly from China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), reported WealthPK.

In developing nations, the SME sector plays a crucial role in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Devel­opment Goals (SDGs) 2030 by creating job opportuni­ties, alleviating poverty, promoting innovation and fostering sustainable indus­trialization, and reducing in­come inequalities.

Dr Liaquat Ali Shah, Execu­tive Director and Head of Poli­cy Division at CPEC Authority, told WealthPK that CPEC pres­ents enormous opportunities for SMEs to flourish.

“The second phase of CPEC has been smoothly initiated. In Pakistan, the SMEs growth has been slow for which CPEC can act as a remedy and way forward for the economic re­vival. Investment prospects are highly favourable for the local and international SMEs in the country,” he said.

Dr Liaquat said Pakistan’s export growth to China and rest of the world is very low.

“Pakistan has an opportuni­ty to access the international markets by utilising the Chi­nese expertise through CPEC and cash in on opportunities in supply chain management, agriculture, livestock, miner­als, food processing, surgical instruments, construction, and ICT, where joint ventures are highly supportive for local SMEs,” he said.

He suggested that special attention should be paid to SME development for creat­ing employment opportuni­ties and enhancing GDP (gross domestic product) growth in the country. The SMEs have less access to information and communication channels and they face difficulties comply­ing with labour, environmen­tal, social, and international standards, therefore, they op­erate in limited markets.

“Technical training for em­ployees is required to im­prove skills, raise production, and prepare them for the up­coming opportunities from CPEC. It is imperative that the government resolve the infrastructure and regulatory issues in order for the SME sector to grow rapidly. SMEs need policies that empower them and allow them to reach their full potential,” he stated.

According to the LCCI Presi­dent Mian Nauman Kabir, there is an excellent oppor­tunity to involve Chinese and other foreign companies with local firms to transfer knowl­edge and technology, par­ticularly in the industrial and agro-processing sectors.

He stated that export-led growth holds the key to sus­tainable economic develop­ment.

“Our products and services must meet global standards. Despite the fact that we can­not generate good revenue by exporting raw material and semi-finished goods, we have to go for value addition to all sectors of the economy. The government needs to take proactive measures to boost exports,” he stated.

According to Small and Me­dium Enterprises Develop­ment Authority (SMEDA), it has taken various initiatives to support SMEs.

The organization has an all-encompassing mandate for fostering the growth of the SME sector through its portfolio of services includ­ing business development, infrastructure development through establishing common facility centres, industry sup­port for productivity enhance­ment and energy efficiency, human capital development through its training programs, and SME related projects with national and international de­velopment partners.