Economy led packaging boom in South Asia – Packaging printers from Pakistan at IPEX South Asia


and the father and son team of Bilal Sheik and Hilal Sheik of Spotlit Printers in Karachi were at the Esko stand at the show.
We had an opportunity on the opening day of IPEX SA to meet some of the South Asian visitors who had already arrived. They happened to be leading packaging companies of Pakistan. Muhammad Arif Mian and Khurshi Anwar of Raiffisons in Lahore, and the father and son team of Bilal Sheik and Hilal Sheik of Spotlit Printers in Karachi were at the Esko stand at the show.

According to these extremely successful packaging industry leaders, the Pakistan economy has been booming and the packaging industry has been riding this high growth. As Bilal Sheikh said to us, “More equipment has been imported by the industry in the last three years than in the previous twenty.” Apparently, the Pakistani Rupee is stable against the dollar and the government policies are very conducive to the expansion of all industries. Industrial machines including printing presses attract only 5 per cent customs duty and no sales tax or the “pre-income tax” that is levied in Pakistan.

Our Pakistani friends also spoke of the huge increase in the organised food processing industry in their country which is responsible for some of their domestic and export consumption of packaging. These leading converters currently import 50 to 60 per cent of their board and they are very optimistic that with the start up of two new paperboard machines in the country, the entire carton-packaging requirement will be met by local manufacture.

According to these very knowledgeable visitors to IPEX SA, the quality of the Pakistan manufactured board is top class. This was a very interesting meeting and it was extremely enjoyable to meet some of the people that we have been writing about over the years including the Show Daily on the first day of the IPEX SA show.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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