Pakistan’s infrastructural deficiencies, energy shortage, and cumbersome red tape are often quoted as reasons to explain why the country is considered as a difficult place to conduct business by investors. In fact, the nation ranks low on several market friendliness surveys. And while all of these problems certainly do exist, Sialkot’s sports’ goods manufacturing industry has managed to rise above the challenges to secure a strong foothold in a niche market, becoming a global exporter of sport related products – estimated at USD2 billion, 9% of the Pakistan’s GDP. In an effort to continue that trend, as many as 120 Sialkot-based companies are participating in ISPO Munich, the world’s biggest trade show for sports business being held in Munich city of Germany.

According to the Pakistan Sports Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PSGMEA) and the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) – the bodies who organised Pakistan’s delegation in Germany – the response from international buyers was very encouraging and they expect an upsurge in orders ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. After becoming famous for being the official producer of the “Brazuca” football for Adidas in the 2014 World Cup, the city of Sialkot is hoping for similar success in upcoming sporting events.

For that to happen, the state has to exceptionally support Sialkot’s industries. The city for the most part has thrived by banding together in the face of state deficiencies; Sialkot’s dry-port is Pakistan’s first privately constructed and its airport was funded by private industries too. By further promoting the industry, as they have done in Germany, and by supplying reliable infrastructure improvements to the city, Pakistan can ensure that the sports goods industry can stay in the forefront of the global market and can stave off the impending challenge from China and CPEC.