Housing mountain ranges and land belts rich in various minerals and precious gems, Pakistan has tons of unearthed wealth.
But unfortunately, the country has not been able to benefit from its natural resources due to a lack of skills, technology and knowledge in processing the mining material. This was highlighted by Shah Faisal Afridi, president of Pak-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI).
China, being the world’s largest consumer market for gems and jewellery, can be a potential market for Pakistan’s products.
“Pakistan needs cooperation of the Chinese companies for promoting the export of gemstones to China,” Afridi said after meeting the chief of Association of Chinese Companies in Pakistan Wang Zihai.
Pakistan has huge resources of gemstone with several varieties at par with international standards in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and northern areas of the country. Pakistan has a potential yield of 800,000 carats of ruby, 875,000 carats of emerald and five million carats of peridot, which remain unutilised.
Afridi lamented that these resources could not be tapped up to an optimal level due to the lack of appropriate cutting and polishing facilities in the country.
He invited the public sector organisation for the promotion of gems and jewellery to explore opportunities available in the Chinese market. He also urged the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to organise exclusive exhibitions for gemstones and jewellery in China.
In 2013, gems and jewellery worth $1.18 billion were exported after the expo in Karachi. Afridi suggested collaborating with China to learn latest techniques for cutting and polishing of gemstones. He suggested taking the national productivity organisation on board, adding that Chinese professionals in this sector should be invited to train the Pakistani labour force for manufacturing and designing state-of-the-art jewellery.
In Pakistan, the current level of gemstones trade is expected to be more than $50 million annually. Furthermore, most of the exports are in the form of rough stones, mainly due to a lack of sophisticated processing industry.
Association of Chinese Companies President Wang Zihai in Pakistan informed that China started focusing its attention on global gem and jewellery industry in 1978 and with the passage of time, the country became a rapidly growing consumer market for the sector.
He said, in 1980, only 20,000 people in China were involved in the jewellery industry. Thirty years later, more than three million are employed in this field, however, rising costs of labour has created challenges for the manufacturing sector, making room for Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2014.
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