‘Pakistani mangoes can combat trade deficit’

Business people urge Pakistan’s missions abroad to host mango festivals for trade diplomacy

Usman Hanif June 16, 2023
A vendor sells mangoes on a street in Karachi. Mangoes are plucked raw from trees then packed in crates with a sachet of calcium carbide to ripen them on way to the market. PHOTO: EXPRESS


In an effort to address Pakistan’s chronic trade deficit, businessmen from across the country are advocating for Pakistani missions abroad to organise mango festivals. These festivals would serve as platforms to showcase the diversity and richness of Pakistani mangoes while promoting trade diplomacy.

The Pakistan Business Forum (PBF) has called upon the country’s missions abroad to host these mango festivals and highlight the significance of trade diplomacy through mangoes. PBF Spokesperson Zainab Jatoi stressed the importance of utilising the occasion of Pakistan’s 75th anniversary of independence to accelerate efforts to boost exports through “Mango Diplomacy.”

Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) President, Zulfikar Thaver emphasised the role of commercial attaches and commercial counsellors in promoting trade. He stated that they have a responsibility to connect importers and exporters, provide lists of importers to Pakistani exporters, and organise festivals featuring Pakistani produce items like mangoes, biryani, kinoo, dates, and others. Thaver suggested holding such collective festivals regularly, approximately every three months.

He also underscored the need for trade officers to stay updated on market trends, marketing tactics of competitors, and the potentiality of the markets in the countries they represent. He stressed the importance of appointing trade officers based on merit and ensuring they are well-educated and well-informed about Pakistan’s exportable items.

The PBF spokesperson further emphasised the importance of projecting Pakistan’s culinary and agrarian richness in all foreign missions through the “75th Pay Kuch Khaas” (Something Special at 75) event. The focus is to enhance Pakistan’s soft image worldwide and tap into new avenues, with mango diplomacy being a significant part of this effort. Mango diplomacy refers to the use of mangoes as symbols of friendship and goodwill, often exchanged as gifts between national or political leaders of South Asian countries.

“South Asian countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have been using this delicious fruit as a way to smoothen political relations for many years,” she said.

Muhammad Ali Iqbal, President of Concave Agri Services, highlighted the thriving mango crop in Punjab this year due to favourable weather conditions, leading to lower prices in the domestic market. This presents an excellent opportunity for the government to boost foreign exchange earnings through timely exports.

President of the Sindh Chamber of Agriculture, Miran Mohammed Shah expressed concerns about the limited export opportunities for Pakistani mangoes, citing economic restrictions that deter exporters. Shah highlighted the need for the government to introduce a facilitation package for mango growers and exporters, as the current informal trade of mangoes results in significant losses for the government exchequer. He also noted that trade commissioners abroad have not played a substantial role in addressing this issue.

The PBF spokesperson further stressed that despite the aroma and taste that makes Pakistani mangoes a hot favourite, little attention has been paid to adopting new harvest practices and technologies to improve the quality of Pakistani mangoes even more. She mentioned that even China, the second-largest mango producer, is interested in Pakistani mangoes due to the high demand that exceeds their own production capacity.

The business community’s call for mango festivals and trade diplomacy highlights the potential of Pakistani mangoes as a valuable export commodity, offering an opportunity to address the trade deficit and strengthen economic ties with other nations.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2023.

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