Canada-Pakistan Trade Expo ’09 – A Window of Opportunity

The current economic slowdown has once again highlighted the significance of globalization and diversification of trade for Canada. Though Canada’s economic indicators (sub-prime loans, real estate and job markets) were better positioned than the US, Canadian economy got badly bruised due to over dependence on a single market, the United States. (79% of the Canadian merchandise was exported to the USA in 2006). The government is encouraging diversification of international trade, however, much more needs to be done by both the government and the private sector to expedite the diversification process and reap economic benefits from moving into emerging markets.

There is a need to focus on second-tier countries, beyond the BRIC, to expand the market base. Anecdotally, mostly  western and Canadian businesses focus on the BRIC turning these countries into pure-competition markets for many products and services. From long-term economic and social perspective, it is prudent to shift focus to the second-tier markets and Pakistan is one of the potential market with 172 million people, 7% GDP growth rate and existing US$750 million bi-lateral trade between Canada and Pakistan.

Despite exuberant media coverage and excessively critical analysis by “experts on South Asia”, the fact is Pakistan remains a market to reckon with. Consider the following facts:

 Large & young market: 172 million people with 60% of the population under 25 years

 Growing Market: Population growth rate is 1.82% & average economic growth rate is 7%

 Relatively little competition:  Mostly western companies are focusing on the BRIC

 Affluent market segment: About 15% of the population is classified in the SEC A

 Business language: English is commonly understood and spoken. Literacy rate is 50%

 Well-established distribution network: Railways & roads connect all parts of the country

 Major Exports:  Textile & Apparel, Leather, Rice, Sport goods, Computer Software

 Existing Canada-Pakistan Bilateral trade: US$750 million

 Skilled manpower: Availability of skilled immigrants to help access the market effectively

Canada- Pakistan Trade Expo is being held at the Toronto Congress Centre from July 9th to 12th, 2009. The Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and Universal Promotions have organized the event with support from the Ontario Ministry of International Trade and Investment. More than 50 Pakistani businesses are participating in the Expo. This event provides an opportunity to Canadian businessmen and women to meet with Pakistani businesses for exploring the business development and market expansion possibilities.

Full Disclosure: I do not have any affiliation with the organizers of this event.

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About Fazal Siddiqi
Fazal Siddiqi Writes on current marketing, branding, communications, diversity and socio-economic opportunities & challenges. He lives in Canada and works for OPAL Marketing Group.

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