Before sleeping, Kashan Khan, a Pakistani doctoral student of Tianjin University in north China’s Tianjin Municipality, ordered vegetables and meat for cooking on a shopping app on his mobile phone, and he would pick up the goods on the way to the dormitory the next day.
“The online shopping in China is convenient. I don’t have time to go to shopping malls or markets. I can buy everything I need online, even the flowers for my girlfriend,” said Khan, who was busy with scientific research, and online shopping helped save a lot of time for him.
China’s digital trade
China’s digital trade has developed vigorously in recent years. According to the data released by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, the scale of China’s digital economy increased by 4.1 trillion U.S. dollars, with an average annual compound growth rate of 14.2 percent from 2016 to 2022.
“I have lived in China for seven years. I saw the rapid development of e-commerce, mobile payment, and artificial intelligence in China by myself. I hope that Pakistan can promote a digital economy like China and people in my hometown can benefit from this economy mode,” Khan told Xinhua.
Khan’s wish has come true, as the dividend of China’s booming digital trade has provided a pool of business opportunities and injected fresh hope into countries along the Belt and Road.
Digital Silk Road
To keep up with the digital transformation trends, the Digital Silk Road was launched. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) technology dimension extends from the ocean floor to outer space, enabling artificial intelligence, big data applications, and other strategic internet solutions.
As of November 2022, China had established the Digital Silk Road cooperation mechanism with 16 countries and advanced the Silk Road E-commerce bilateral cooperation mechanism with 26 countries, including Pakistan.
Samoyed Cloud Technology, a Chinese scientific and technological enterprise focused on artificial intelligence, big data, mobile Internet, and cloud computing, tapped into the vast potential of the market of Pakistan’s digital economy and launched the e-commerce platform EZTRADER to provide digital trade services for the local retailers importing Chinese products.
“Chinese products are popular in Pakistan. Since the platform EZTRADER was launched in May of this year, it has attracted more than 3,000 local retailers, completely exceeding our expectations,” said Lin Jianming, chairman and CEO of the company.
Muhammad Rizwan, a 35-year-old retailer of mobile phone accessories in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, settled in EZTRADER swiftly after it was launched.
“E-commerce platforms provide a centralized space where businesses can connect, negotiate, and conduct transactions. We don’t need to search for potential partners or clients individually. We can trade directly with manufacturers or suppliers in China without intermediaries. This can significantly reduce the cost,” said Muhammad Rizwan.
Alibaba.com, an online business-to-business marketplace for global wholesalers under the Alibaba Group, has launched foreign trade business in many countries along the Belt and Road. Pakistan topped the number of overseas wholesalers on the platform, and the annual growth rate of the number of Pakistani wholesalers was over 64 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For lack of capital and sales channels, a Pakistani couple, Aziz-ur-Rehman and Sadia Aziz, struggled in the first two years after they had established their baby clothing brand with their savings of 1.5 million rupees (about 18,000 U.S. dollars) in 2018.
In 2020, Alibaba.com provided them with complete online business solutions and online training sessions. Their company was connected with global customers through the platform and turned losses into profits.
“Up to now, our company’s business revenue was over 3 million rupees and grew at a rate of 1 million rupees per year. China provided us with a lot of opportunities in the digital economy. We believe Pakistan’s digital economy is promising in the future,” said Aziz-ur-Rehman.
Afsheen is a writer with an extensive experience in creating authentic and well-researched articles.