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KARACHI: Vice President of the Pakistan Business Forum Jahanara Wattoo has said Pakistan’s agricultural products exported to China from Jan to Aug 2022 reached $730 million with a YoY increase of 28.59 percent. Pakistan’s agricultural exports to China are expected to exceed a record high of $1 billion in 2022.

Farmers in Pakistan are hard-working, toiling in fields in high temperatures, but we have a lack of access to modern technologies and latest research and development. That is the major hindrance.

However, under the second phase of the CPEC, China has begun increasing agricultural collaboration with Pakistan. This has involved strengthening and upgrading relevant infrastructure; increasing technology exchange in fields such as crop-seed production and poultry breeding; and providing education and research to farmers and agriculture universities. Pointing to these developments, Wattoo added.

“In the last couple of years, there has been a visible increase in Pakistani agricultural products in China, but the potential is still huge.”

Pakistan currently enjoys zero duties on more than 1,000 goods sold to China, after free-trade agreements between the neighbours took effect in 2007 and 2020. Islamabad is working to increase Pakistan’s agricultural exports to China.

Jahanara Wattoo also said Pakistan have memorandums of understanding and protocols that have either been signed or are under processing for the export of various agricultural commodities from Pakistan, including rice, fruits such as mangoes and citrus and vegetables such as potatoes and onions.”

While the value of Pakistan’s exports to China during the year’s first nine months saw a year-on-year increase of 2 per cent, to US$2.57 billion, its trade deficit with China reached US$15 billion, owing to about US$17 billion worth of goods going the other way.

“If you look at how agriculture in Pakistan is organised, most of it is informal and in small farms,” “Although it means we are able to produce good quality, we are not able to meet the growing demand of the Chinese market. The economies of scale are lacking.”

Similarly Pakistan lacks transport and cold-storage facilities, and this hinders its export of perishable commodities. Due to this, post-harvest losses in fruits and vegetables can account for 30-40 per cent of the production, according to a 2019 report by the Asian Development Bank.

Wattoo also believed Pakistan’s exports could also benefit from the direct land links built under the CPEC, as these would shorten transport distance and reduce costs.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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