LAHORE: With Pakistan’s international trade growing to well over $50 billion and growth reaching a 10-year high on the back of strong domestic demand, improved security conditions and heavy investments in the road, transport and power schemes around the multi-billion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative, the global shipping firms and logistics and e-commerce providers like UPS seem to be attracted by the future prospects Pakistan offers for their business.
The arrival of UPS — a global package delivery company and a provider of supply chain management solutions present in 220 countries — in Pakistan as a partner of the largest domestic shipping company, TCS, is billed to help cut time and cost of shipments coming into or going out of the country.
“[The] Pakistan market is very rich… and there are plenty of opportunities to develop business here,” Mr Jean-Francois Condamine, the president of UPS’s Indian Subcontinent, Middle East and Africa (ISMEA) region, told Dawn. He was in Lahore recently to open the country’s second ‘Gateway’.
“[The Gateway] is a door to the world. In other words it is a place where we process all our volumes going in or out of Pakistan. It’s a way we consolidate shipments for exporters” he tells Dawn.
According to the World Bank’s Doing Business report, the time and the cost of trade in Pakistan, for both exporters and importers, is higher than the South Asian average. This is despite the fact that Pakistan has upgraded port infrastructure and implemented several reforms to cut time and documentation requirements.
Mr Condamine elaborated that business-to-business ventures are growing rapidly although Pakistan’s dealings with the rest of the world have for some time now been displaying emergence of trends like business-to-consumer and digitisation.
The UPS ISMEA boss explained that the nature of his company’s collaboration with TCS is commercial. “We have worked together for two and a half years. It is a very natural partnership. TCS has 65 per cent market share in a country with over 200 million people and UPS is a global giant present in 220 countries.”
“We needed to change the game in Pakistan, meaning that we have to be present in this market. We have to develop business and revenues. More importantly, we link all 220 countries and I would say that Pakistan was a little bit late in the game.”
Speaking about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Mr Condamine said his company was present in all the countries the corridor project is connecting. “CPEC is an extension of sea ports connecting the continents, which is very important for us as well. It is more about joining the geographical blocs: China, Europe, East Africa and the Middle East. It offers us a big opportunity. We are already present in China and now have come to Pakistan. So we are ready to take any opportunity that comes our way.”
He said his firm had already set up a direct air link between Sandy Springs in Georgia, US, where the UPS’s headquarters are located, and Dubai. “This link for the moment is for serving our customers in the Gulf. But we plan to extend it to Pakistan to capture more share of the B2B and B2C market here,” he added.
Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2018