BEIJING        -          There is a great growth potential for Pakistan's e-commerce and e-commerce policy makers will focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), improving e-commerce experience, developing online stores, offering job opportunities for youth, promoting exports, and vigorously developing digital economy.

At the same time, the State Bank of Pakistan will accelerate the construction, application and promotion of domestic and international online payment systems, Cheng Xizhong, Prof. at Southwest University of Political Science and Law wrote in his article published in China Economic Net.

Recently, at an e-commerce policy forum hosted by Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), a senior official from the Ministry of Commerce stated that Pakistan's e-commerce sales in 2018 stood at Rs 40 billion, which almost doubled the sales of 20.7 billion in 2017.

Among top e-commerce platforms in Pakistan, Daraz is the most famous. It was founded in 2012 and wholly acquired by Alibaba in 2018. The second is Hamariweb, which mainly provides clothing and electronic products for users. Third, Goto Online Shopping, headquartered in Karachi, is an all category e-commerce platform, and its electronic products are most popular with consumers.

It is a good thing that State Bank of Pakistan will accelerate the development of online payment systems, so definitely it will adopt corresponding policies.

Domestically, online payment system should be developed first in big cities such as Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, then medium-sized cities and small towns, and finally in vast rural areas, to gradually extend the online payment system in the whole country.

Globally, priority should be given to the development of online payment system to China, United States, Europe, Middle East and other countries and regions according to the closeness of trade relations.

Another development is that a Chinese Customs delegation has visited Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and held detailed discussions with Pakistani Customs officials in Islamabad.

The two sides agreed that they would make an all-out effort to expedite clearances of agricultural products, under the proposed Green Corridor, at Sust Dry Port, Pakistan and Khunjerab Dry Port at Tashkurgan on the Chinese side, in a bid to promote the China-Pakistan agricultural trade.

The two sides agreed to establish a customs cooperation mechanism, enhance border management cooperation, and nominate focal persons to have liaison and regular meetings and will strengthen customs electronic data exchange and actively resolve the problem of statistical differences in trade data.

In addition, the two parties will strengthen cooperation in customs management experience exchange and human resources training.

In 2013, China and Kazakhstan established a "green channel" for the rapid clearance of agricultural products, which was the first fast clearance channel for the import and export of agricultural products established by China and neighboring countries.

Since then, China has successively established "green channels" with Mongolia, Russia and other Central Asian countries.

China and Pakistan are also expecting to establish a `green channel' from many years. With the "green channel", the clearance time of agricultural products will be greatly shortened, especially perishable agricultural products can get preferential customs clearance treatment after meeting the customs clearance conditions.

At present, China's e-commerce platform is highly developed, but some neighboring countries are still unable to do sharing with China due to their backward status. If Pakistan would like to realize data sharing with China, it must accelerate the development of e-commerce platforms.

In recent days, there are lots of good news in the development of the China-Pakistan trade and economic relations: first, the free trade agreement has been upgraded, and the proportion of zero tariff products will gradually increase from 35% to 75%; second, the agreement on a "green channel" will be signed soon to achieve the rapid clearance of border agricultural products.