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The US and Europe are missing out on Pakistan’s burgeoning pharmaceutical industry, despite reliable cool supply chains.
Speaking at the Cold Chain Distribution conference in London this week, Muhammad Azmat Khan, manager of logistics and exports at Pakistan’s Getz Pharma, said the Pakistani pharma industry was overlooked and ostracised by the EU and US markets.
As a result, its key trading partners are within South Asia, the Indian Ocean and East Africa.
Last year, he said, his company transported some 16m units of pharmaceuticals, with 2.5 to 3m of these to international markets.
“We are stringently regulated in Pakistan and checks on our supply chains are performed regularly to make sure that we are compliant,” Mr Khan continued.
“There is undoubted potential in Pakistani pharmaceuticals, as an industry we are seeing a compound annual growth rate of 10-12%.
“Our focus should be on rebuilding our global reputation and making people in Europe recognise that the medication developed not just in Pakistan, but also Bangladesh, is worth being acquired.”
Even so, Mr Khan acknowledged some issues faced by Pakistani supply chains, not least of which was the age of vehicles available to its operators.
He said more investment was required, which requires a change of mindset, whereby investing is seen as less of a cost and more of a solution.
“Reliance on these older vehicles leads to higher maintenance costs, which over the long-term proves wasteful compared with replacement with modern trucks,” he added.
“That said, we are not losing loads because the quality of the truck reefer systems remains high, but they’re loaded onto 20-year-old vehicles.
Mr Khan also called for global leaders to support the side-lined industry, which, he claims, has opportunities.
“All these issues can be addressed – we have the workforce, we have the industry, we have the market – and with the right global leaders, we can make it work.
“In Pakistan, we have a massive domestic population of 192m and, of course, our neighbours are also well-populated with workers,” he said.
“Our biggest age demographic is 26-38, but what they need is guidance, and we are calling on those who can lead to join us.”