ISLAMABAD           -       The e-commerce policy of Pakistan would focus on the development and promotion of SMEs for making Pakistan a significant player of the regional and global digital economy.

Ministry of Commerce and Textile Joint Secretary (WTO) Aisha Humera Moriani said this while addressing a seminar on e-commerce policy of Pakistan, organized by Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) in collaboration with Ministry of Commerce and Textiles.

She said e-commerce was a growing trend in the world as e-commerce sales of China reached $1526 billion in 2018 followed by US $526, UK $124 billion, Japan $109 billion, S Korea $78 billion, Germany $73 billion, France $58 billion and Canada $44 billion.

She said e-commerce sales in Pakistan was over Rs20.7 billion, which grew by 93.7 percent in 2018 reaching Rs40.1 billion, which showed that Pakistani businesses has great potential grow through digital sales.

She said the policy would contribute towards achieving higher export growth through enhanced activities from e-platforms, promote small e-businesses and create employment opportunities through digital connectivity for empowering youth, especially in remote areas.

She emphasized that SMEs should use e-commerce platforms to get connected with online markets across the globe for promoting trade and exports.

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Deputy Director Sharoon Rasheed highlighted the role of SBP in promoting e-commerce.

He said the SBP would speed up its work on nationwide micropayment gateway and will further facilitate accessibility to international payment gateways. He said the SBP rules and regulations already facilitated any entity to provide payment services in Pakistan subject to consumer protection, risk management and financial stability.

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chief Customs (Exports) Iqbal Munir highlighted the role of FBR in promoting e-commerce.

He said customs systems would be aligned with e-commerce to facilitate the growth of digital economy and urged that business community should share e-commerce related issues that would be addressed to facilitate them in e-business promotion.

ICCI President Muhammad Ahmed Waheed said due to cyber security issues, there was a lack of trust in online transactions and urged that government to address this issue to promote e-commerce in Pakistan.

He said maximum awareness should be created amongst exporters, SMEs and other stakeholders for enhancing the use of e-platforms.

He said providing easy access to international payment gateways was the key requirement for e-commerce to grow fast and urged that the policy should address such issues.

ICCI Senior Vice President Tahir Abbasi and Vice President Saif ur Rahman Khan also highlighted various issues that were required to be addressed to facilitate the growth of e-commerce in Pakistan.