Corporate competition begins between Pakistan and Afghanistan

Jalil Afridi PESHAWAR: Corporate competition between Pakistan and Afghanistan has begun and the looser this time are the Pakistani industrialists who have invested Billions of Rupees in their businesses with the hope and assurance that their end product will cater not only the markets of Pakistan but Afghanistan as well.The latest example in this regard is Pepsico better known as Pepsi here in Pakistan. Pepsi has been successfully doing business in Pakistan for the last fourty years. Pepsi has given franchise or bottling license to different companies all over Pakistan. All these Pakistani bottlers are big investors who are responsible for making all brands of Pepsi, including 7up, Marinda and many more.This year Pepsi decided to give its bottling license for Afghanistan to one Alokozay group. Alokozay group has come in lime light for the last five years and it’s due to their tea brand and also due to one of their directors being first cousin of President Hamid Karazai.It is pertinent to mention here that Katawazi Group has been the sole distributor in Afghanistan of Pepsi Pakistan for the last nine years.Nine years ago the sales of Pepsi in Afghanistan were sixty thousand units per year whereas in 2010 Katawazi was able to export six Million units from Pakistan into Afghanistan thus bringing great revenues for Pakistan.Athtar Wais Wairzai, Managing Director Katawazi Group while talking to The Frontier Post said that “I am surprised to see that nobody in Pakistan is saying anything about Pakistan loosing such huge exports.”Akhtar further said that it is due to hard work and huge investment put in by his group that has enabled Pepsi Pakistan capture such huge market in Afghanistan.Akhtar said that the Pepsi bottling plants in Pakistan were producing enough quantity to cater the market of Afghanistan and that is why the sales of Pepsi are much higher than Coca Cola, despite the fact that Coca Cola is being produced in Afghanistan.To verify the version of Mr. Akhtar, The Frontier Post contacted one of the biggest bottlers of Pakistan, he on the condition of anonymity said that “it is very true that Pakistan will be loosing big exports share.” He further said that he does not know the reason why Pepsi sidelined Katawazi Group, which has put in great effort and produced desired results for Pepsi.Mr. Muhammad Khosa, Director Exports Pepsi Pakistan, when contacted by The Frontier Post said that “a transparent process was followed for appointment of a bottler in Afghanistan.” With regard to the effect on Pakistan exports, Khosa agreed and said that “Pakistan’s beverage export will impacted, but the quantum of exports is very low anyway.”Mr. Akhtar of Katawazi group in response to Pepsi’s Mr. Khosa said that Pepsi did not issue the bottling license in transparent manner as they were kept in dark and that Katawazi Group had already applied for the bottling license for Afghanistan in 2008. He further said that Pepsi has been telling them that the bottling plants in Pakistan can produce enough quantity to fulfill the demand of Pepsi in Afghanistan; therefore there is no need for another bottling plant in Afghanistan.The Frontier Post after doing complete survey and getting versions from different corporate heads has come to the conclusion that in the end it’s the Pakistani businessmen and the Pakistani exports which will be affected the most. The Frontier Post with regard to corporate competition will be publishing more such stories in future.