JAVED MAHMOOD and RAMZAN CHANDIO talk to Managing Director SGS Pakistan Syed Farukh Mazhar to discuss certification and inspection issues relating to the foreign trade Q: What do you suggest to promote quality in foreign trade of Pakistan? The federal government must discourage the foreign trade of uncertified goods with the aim to promote quality, safeguard the interests of the consumers and earn more foreign exchange from the export goods. A big proportion of the foreign trade of Pakistan (exports and imports) is being carried out without proper certification and inspection. For example, out of 11-12 billion dollars annual exports of textile products from Pakistan, hardly two billion dollars worth products are being certified and inspected by the internationally renowned inspection companies. Q: What would be the impact of the enforcement of inspection? The certification and inspection by internationally reputed companies like SGS would lead to increase in the value of the exportable products. At present the SGS has its presence and set-up in 132 countries in the world. Famous international buyers/importers involve our company to maintain their prescribed standard and quality of the products imported from Pakistan and other countries. The price of the certified product raises its value automatically. I am sure that with the enforcement of comprehensive certification and inspection of exportable products, the country would be able to earn a minimum of 10 per cent extra foreign exchange. We discussed the issue of inspection of foreign trade goods with the Chairman of Trade Development Authority Tariq Ikram and requested him to implement this proposal. But so far there was no development on this front. I also think that the inspection of goods would improve the image of Pakistan abroad and put an end to the complaints of the supply of substandard items or those which do not meet the required criteria of the importers. Q: How do you see the image of Pakistan abroad?   The foreign and local media had badly distorted the image of Pakistan abroad. Whenever there is a negative development or mishap in the country, the foreign and local media drums it well that ultimately tarnishes the image of Pakistan all over the world. The media in Pakistan should promote the positive things and elevate the image of the motherland. Being Vice-President of Market Association of Pakistan, I am briefing the foreigners about the positive aspects in Pakistan, potential of growth and investment here. It is no doubt that Pakistan had been blessed with countless consumer items which we bring into the knowledge of the foreigners, importers and investors. Q: What are the areas of expertise of the SGS: The SGS is the world's leading inspection and quality-control company. It had started its operations in Pakistan since 1952. The 56-year-old company is playing a leading role in Pakistan in inspection of exports/imports goods and quality certification of products. The Switzerland-based company was established 136 years ago, in 1872 and has extended its presence to 140 countries in the world. In Pakistan 400 professionals are working with the SGS in different offices located in Karachi, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan, Queta, Peshawar and Hyderabad. The company has a huge network and capability to provide services and assists in each and every sector in Pakistan. We have separate services divisions for every sector such as agriculture, oil, gold, mineral and textile. Q: About major achievements of the company?   The SGS has introduced a technology in Pakistan to inspect the quality of lifeline of miles long gas, oil pipelines, their durability. The technology also indicates leakage, rusting of pipelines and expected life-span of the pipelines. We are giving this service to a number of oil and gas companies in the country.  Meanwhile, ours is the first company in the world to conduct the off-shore inspection of pipelines, etc. Exposure in agriculture Our major services are in agriculture sector in Pakistan. The SGS had been inspecting and testing quality of 0.6 to 0.7 million tons of irri rice exported every year from Pakistan to different countries. The company is also conducting the inspection of imported cotton. Pakistan imports 1.5 million bales every year for domestic consumption and our company handles the inspection of the imported cotton. The company has in-house latest laboratories where the testing and inspection process is carried out of the samples of exported and imported commodities, etc. This testing and inspection process is done through latest equipments while SGS have highly qualified manpower for this process.  Similarly, we provide our services for the inspection of imported wheat. The SGS had recently inspected the samples of imported wheat at Gwadar port where the shipments landed recently. Particularly in food items, the SGS inspected the samples before loading in ship as well as reaching its destination. In Pakistan, SGS is actively involved in the inspection and testing of wheat being imported from various countries. Our company, however, was not involved in the inspection of inferior quality wheat that was imported a few years ago.  The SGS had also set-up sugar laboratory where inspection and testing is carried out of this commodity before loading it to import and export purposes. We also provide fumigation services for export of agriculture commodities especially of rice because fumigation of rice is necessary before the export of commodity. We provide this facility at warehouses as well as during on-board for export that protects the commodity from the attack of worms and deceases during sea journey and delivery to the buyers. The fumigation services are being provided as per the international standard. Q-There are reports that substandard wheat with dust and more moisture than required was imported by Pakistan in the past. Is your company inspected that wheat? Fortunately our company was not involved in the inspection of this wheat, which was imported from Australia in the past. Any message you want to convey to exporters/importers? Once again I will urge the government, TDAP to make mandatory the inspection of the all the exportable and importable goods with the aim to promote quality, standard and protect the interest of the consumers.  Without proper inspection the complaints of exports and imports of inferior quality goods would continue that often embarrasses the foreign traders, exporters, importers and sometimes defames the image of the country.