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Pakistan’s IT Exports Surge, Eyes $3.5 Billion Milestone with Saudi Deals and Policy Boost

Pakistan’s information technology exporters are optimistic about reaching a significant milestone of $3.5 billion in trade in 2024, buoyed by major deals with Saudi firms and a supportive policy environment.

In February, the country recorded monthly IT exports totaling $257 million, marking a 32 percent increase compared to the same period last year. This surge surpassed the previous 12-month average of $233 million, as per data released by the central bank.

Local companies attribute this growth to favorable policies encouraging repatriation of proceeds and the establishment of the Special Investment Facilitation Council, aimed at boosting foreign investment. Additionally, increased trade with Saudi Arabia has been instrumental, with numerous Pakistani IT firms showcasing their products at the LEAP tech exhibition in Riyadh.

Zohaib Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA), highlighted that projects worth millions of dollars have been secured, with a pipeline for even larger projects generated during the exhibition.

LEAP 2023 alone generated $9 billion in IT business, and Pakistani companies developed leads worth over $100 million through business-to-business matchmaking. Khan estimated a substantial increase in IT exports to Saudi Arabia over the past two years.

Furthermore, relaxed retention limits by the State Bank of Pakistan and stable currency rates have encouraged IT companies to repatriate foreign income, contributing to the export surge. The central bank’s introduction of corporate debit cards is expected to facilitate cross-border payments, further incentivizing exporters to bring funds back to Pakistan.

Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb expressed confidence in the IT sector’s potential, anticipating exports to reach $3.5 billion this year. Pakistan’s software market has seen consistent growth, with the sector currently valued at around $3.2 billion.

The United States remains Pakistan’s largest IT market, accounting for over half of exports in the previous financial year. The country’s IT sector is primarily focused on software development and IT-enabled services, with a significant portion serving international clientele. Freelancers and tech start-ups continue to drive growth in the industry.

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