BEIJING: After the second phase of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Pakistan’s exports to China are expected to reach more than $5 billion, said Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Chairman Daroo Khan Achakzai, during the China-South Asia Cooperation Forum.
The 2019 South and Southeast Asia Commodity Expo and Investment Fair (SSACEIF) was held in Kunming, Yunnan Province from June 12 to 18. About 228 Pakistani exhibitors participated in the fair, which gathered most Pakistani businessmen among all kinds of exhibitions held in China every year.
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On one hand, Pakistani exhibitors actively promote their products to China, and on the other hand, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has released its most recent statistics of Pakistan’s exports to China, with volumes at $1.48 billion in the first 10 months of this fiscal year, only $15 million higher than its exports to the UK in the third place. Achakzai expressed his views on this.
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Speaking at the China-South Asia Cooperation Forum, which was held at the same time with SSACEIF, Achakzai said, “By the FTA second phase, we hope that our exports to China will double, as 313 items are included in the FTA, equal to the ASEAN tariff. So, we hope that our yarn, sugar, more agricultural products and maybe leather products can be exported to China in greater volume, two times, three times more than the last fiscal year.”
In the last fiscal year, that is 2017-18, Pakistan’s exports to China totalled $1.74 billion. However, according to SBP, Pakistan’s exports to the United States, its largest export destination in the first 10 months of this fiscal year, were $3.367 billion. In other words, the Pakistani industrial and commercial sector, represented by Achakzai, had high expectations for the result of implementing the second phase of China-Pakistan FTA. Their export targets to China are not only likely to catch up, but also surpass that to the United States. “After the second phase of FTA, we hope that exports to China will be $5 billion plus,” Achakzai added.
Export potential in agri-products may hit $12b
In recent years, agriculture has gradually come under the spotlight in the economic and trade cooperation between China and Pakistan. At a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Bishkek on June 14, President Xi Jinping stressed that industrial parks and agriculture should be a new focus between the two sides, so as to expand and enrich the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). At the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said China and Pakistan have been jointly entering the next stage of CPEC, and the two countries will put more emphasis on poverty reduction and agricultural cooperation.
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Earlier, Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan said the government has enhanced allocation for the development of agriculture sector by 1,200% and has earmarked Rs12.5 billion in the federal budget for fiscal year 2019-20 compared to just Rs1 billion in the previous budget. In addition, 13 new agricultural projects will also be launched, including the support for crop yield, seed supply, and mechanisation of farms, while all previous governments neglected the agriculture sector.
“Pakistan also has a huge consumption of agricultural products at home. The government led by Imran Khan has announced the clean and green Pakistan campaign, which exempted agricultural machinery from tax for 10 years. We hope this will enhance the quality of our products and our GDP growth of the agricultural products will be also higher,” Achakzai said.
Earlier, the Chinese media reported that the FPCCI was in contact with China’s Kingeta International, who calls for soil amelioration, soil-friendly planting, and provides solutions for saline alkali soils in India. As early as 2017, Pakistani media reported that the FPCCI believes that if properly operated, Pakistan will earn $12 billion a year from exports of agricultural products to China, which is almost seven times the current total of Pakistan’s exports to China.
This article originally appeared on the China Economic Net
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2019.
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