With the start of the year 2020, the world has witnessed many newsworthy events. However, the Coronavirus outburst has taken the world by storm – what was initially considered as Chinese problem has spread across 100 countries and no one is safe. We in Pakistan are now painfully aware of the virus and how lethal it can be if it spreads in a poor resource-constrained country like ours. However, I will look at this crisis from an economic point of view.
The Coronavirus outburst shook many economies. Major stock markets were hit as share prices fell and many countries have already witnessed difficulties in maintaining their balance of payments. These are some of the crises that Pakistan was already facing for decades. However, this crisis now calls for action that would not just assist our local small and medium-size businesses but also inspire youth to focus on the export market.
At worse, if we are unable to export, we will be ready to combat virus locally if necessary. To be fair in fighting a health-related issue there are no ifs and buts
From Pakistan’s point of view, this push to contribute to the challenge created by Caronavirus will allow Pakistan to assist China and the world in trying to overcome the spread of this scourge. Undertaking this challenge, we may also achieve a crucial goal of economic diplomacy.
Many countries were forced to steer all their attention to their local medical facilities. This meant the production of protective masks and other medical supplies to be supplied locally. The same has been done in Pakistan. I strongly suggest shifting the focus on our medical facilities that can produce and export basic medical supplies like the N-95 mask which is today a basic requirement for many countries. On March 10th, according to Bloomberg, the international news portal, the masks shortage is expected to rise globally.
Pakistan already has a thriving medical supplies industry and expanding it at this stage would make absolute sense because the money is being spent, across the world, to solve a real-time problem with a very basic tool like a “N-95 Mask”. This is the time when we can kick start our exports of masks as the demand is expected to rise. The government should ensure the prices are fair and in check. Government may also financially support and encourage the existing and new businesses that can prove to be a valuable tool to increase the quantum of our exports.
At best, Pakistan will get a kick start for its exports around a niche product that is the need of the hour. The entrepreneurial minds already invested in this niche product may also start to explore other products that can be locally sourced, this in the future can give rise to social entrepreneurs around the country to fight the Coronavirus. Secondly, Pakistan can start a new phase in its current history to promote economic diplomacy through exports.
At worse, if we are unable to export, we will be ready to combat virus locally if necessary. To be fair in fighting a health-related issue there are no ifs and buts. I strongly suggest that the government should highlight the potential export of medical supplies. While the entrepreneurs of Pakistan may explore to fill the gap that currently exists in the global supply chain.
Zahid Wisal is an aspiring social entrepreneur; he is a graduate of Heriot-Watt University. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.