Exporting Smartphones

On Friday, the first consignment of 5,500 mobile sets of 4G smartphones manufactured by Inovi Telecom was exported to the UAE. This makes it the first time that Pakistan has become an exporter of smartphones.

This is great progress within the manufacturing industry and must be encouraged through supportive policies by the government. There is good potential for revenue in this market—particularly if we target a certain section, specifically the Gulf countries, which have a large number of expats that prefer efficient, affordable smartphones that cater to local demands.

Knowing and playing to our strengths is important since Pakistan cannot compete with high-end luxury brands like Apple or Samsung. However, there is a huge, perhaps even bigger market for Chinese, affordable but still effective and easy to run phones. This is where Pakistan has a good fighting chance. The Gulf countries have a mass market that Pakistan should take advantage of. It has also been noted that the ordinary citizens of Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan too preferred mobile sets up to $100 each, which Pakistan can provide.

However, this is just the beginning and there is a lot the government needs to improve before Pakistan can be known as a big name for smartphone production. The local manufacturers of mobile phone sets have stressed the need for an export supportive policy, allowing Pakistan to beat competitors in the Middle East region. There have been some grievances that the government’s approach towards enhancing export markets is slow, compared to other manufacturers which are aiming much higher. The government has enacted some favourable policies to encourage exporters, such as banning the smuggling of mobile phones and taking steps to block those who do it. However, such policies must be expanded upon—it is unfair to expect our manufacturers to compete with the likes of India, Bangladesh, China and East Asian countries with fewer facilities.

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