Just over a year after Amazon added Pakistani suppliers to its roster for potential sellers, there are troubling reports that the global shipping and retail chain has shut down more than 13000 accounts of our sellers due to fraudulent activity. It gets even worse because groups of retailers are claiming that Sahiwal and Mian Channu have also been blacklisted as locations due to the high amount of fraudulent activity coming from these areas.

This is troubling news. Amazon is a global supplier of products and Pakistani exporters can potentially use this to their advantage to help increase the export of finished products. We have over 1.2 million registered merchants on the platform, and using the online giant’s services can really help boost sales to the benefit of both individual sellers and the country’s export balance at large as well.

Quite naturally, the state cannot always control who signs up as a merchant for the platform. But it can engage with large-scale set-ups such as Amazon and Alibaba to limit the access of potential fraudulent merchants. The Pakistan’s government’s policy of promoting the cottage industry and allowing sellers to use Pakistan Post for Amazon transactions is also part of the problem. Bogus sellers ask their customers to wait for a product for 19-20 days, knowing full well that Amazon will compensate them in 14, and then do not send a product in return. This is something that can be countered through government action and must be done so immediately.

It is important to promote our cottage industry and small-scale sellers and retailers, but their protection extends to the larger reputation of Pakistani sellers as well. If multiple fraudulent sellers bring a bad name to Pakistani sellers in general, the sales of honest brokers and retailers are also affected. The government must work on removing fraud from our nascent digital economy for the larger good of both the sellers and the customers in the long run.