‘Alibaba can become important part of Pak digital economy’

ISLAMABAD - Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan has said that Alibaba can become an important part of the Pakistan’s digital economy and can play a significant role in its growth in decades to come.

He expressed these remarks while chairing a meeting with Alibaba Group President Michael Evans. Alibaba is a Chinese e-commerce company that provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via web portals. It also provides electronic payment services, a shopping search engine and data-centric cloud computing services. The group began in 1999 when Jack Ma founded the website Alibaba.com. The meeting was also attended by Secretary Commerce, Secretary Finance, Secretary and Chairman Board of Investment, representatives from FBR, State Bank and Commercial Banks and other relevant government departments.

Welcoming the Alibaba Group president, the minister said that Pakistan is pleased to have this opportunity to exchange views on E-Commerce with Alibaba Group. Dastgir maintained that digital platforms have not only changed the economics of doing business across borders by reducing costs of international transactions enabling Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to connect with customers and suppliers around the world but has also promoted inclusive economic growth and have provided livelihood for the marginalised segments of the society including women.

Dastgir said that E-Commerce is still in its infancy in Pakistan compared to the global trends but it is rising very fast as this sector is doubling in size with every passing year. He further said that this sector may surpass $1 billion in 2020 due to exponential growth in mobile broadband access. Pakistan is leading in mobile banking transactions in South Asia with 11 percent of citizens using mobile phones for financial transactions and Pakistan’s e-commerce industry is estimated at $100 million with about 30 million internet users.

The minister said that government of Pakistan is encouraging the private sector to take the lead and partner with the government in fulfilling Pakistan’s potential in E-Commerce. The minister proposed collaboration with a world leader in the field such as Alibaba group, both at a strategic and technical level to enable Pakistan to harness its true Potential.

The minister also informed the participants that cognizant of the global developments in digital trade and E-Commerce, Ministry of Commerce is working on a policy framework for development of E-Commerce/digital trade in the country.

Michael appreciated the government of Pakistan for its hospitality and warm welcome and said that Alibaba is interested in starting its operations in Pakistan and to tap in to this high potential market. He further said that Alibaba can offer its services in bringing in contact the consumer and businesses of Pakistan in contact with the world and this will not only result in endless opportunities for the Small and Medium Enterprises but also in creation of millions of jobs. Later, secretary finance, BOI chairman and other distinguished participants shared their views followed by detailed question and answer session between Michael Evans and other participants.

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