Thursday March 30, 2023

‘Businesses must let go of comfort zone to explore global markets’

March 14, 2017

LAHORE: Inward looking approach of our entrepreneurs would deprive our nation of the long term benefits of going global in a world that requires our businessmen to remain on their toes and accept the challenging opportunities available around the world.

This was the message former commerce minister Razzak Dawood gave to the participants of the two-day Marcon 2017 conference on Monday. The theme of the conference was ‘Breaking the Barriers’.

Speaking as a keynote speaker, Dawood said most of the corporate sectors the world over took up challenges to ensure sustainable growth. “Pakistani corporate sector does not want to move out of the comfort zone it enjoys in the domestic market,” he added.

This short sighted approach, he said was limiting their gains to short term as their market remains limited. “Exploring foreign markets is an uphill job and needs perseverance but is highly rewarding in the long term,” he added.

Dawood said looking for export markets helped companies improve their quality as well as market range. “Some entrepreneurs say that the economy of Pakistan has not reached a stage of development to go global,” he said, and added that many countries at the same stage of development got boosted when their corporate sector explored foreign markets.

He cited the examples of Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia in this regard. “Launching Pakistani brands is absolutely essential to increase our exports. He said without brands we will not be able to add value to our products,” he said.

He said Bangladesh and Nepal that were at a lower stage of development than Pakistan have introduced brands in the global market. Dilating on the reluctance of Pakistani corporate sector to seek foreign markets, he said it was perhaps due to the nature and culture of our entrepreneurs who prefer short term gains instead of long time sustainability.

Dawood said Pakistan’s economic sustainability is linked to exports. He said, “It is not possible to make a mark in a foreign market in a year or two. It is a long term process that might take up to 25 years,” he cautioned.

The former minister pointed out that a section of the corporate sector of Pakistan has mustered the courage to explore the Middle East market. However, he added this market was limited, “we should enlarge our export destinations”.

Luckily, he said the young highly educated generation that was joining the businesses now did realise the importance of brands and exports. “They are likely to break the market barriers. They understand that Pakistan is fast losing its low cost advantage and building brands and their reputation is the only way to enhance value,” the former minister said.

Speaking of alliances and joint ventures with international concerns, Razzak Dawood also urged the Pakistani corporate sector to consider the option of buying established brands. He said the world is changing rapidly and with it, the challenges as well. “Challenges are always accompanied with opportunities.”

He with Trump coming to power in the United States the dynamics of trade are changing. He said Brexit would cause a different kind of disruption, and the forthcoming elections in France and Germany might also change the economic realities.

The former commerce minister said businesses should formulate their business strategies in the light of new challenges. No country ever has posted a decent and sustained growth without increasing its exports, he added.

Citing his own example, he said that he went global about 30 years back, though not with a brand. He said his company carved out its niche in the next 25 years and was an established brand in the services sector.

Razzak Dawood said it was only after exploring the global markets that one learned how to be internationally competitive. It is only after rubbing shoulders with competitors from various regions that one learns the secret of success by achieving efficiency. “Our executives have the capability to explore the global markets. What they need is passion and commitment,” he concluded.