China and Pakistan have agreed on the protocol on sanitary and phytosanitary requirements for Rhodes Grass exported from Pakistan to China, hoping that more agricultural products from Pakistan could gain access to the Chinese market. Pakistani Rhode Grass is a high-quality cattle feed, with excellent nutrition and sweet taste. It has a huge potential for export and can turn into a significant source of much-needed foreign exchange earnings for Pakistan.
As a matter of fact, despite the high quality and competitive price, many of the agricultural products of Pakistan are facing difficulties in exporting to the rest of the world. The most hard-hit hurdle was Sanitary and Phytosanitary restrictions imposed by most of the developed countries. It is termed a non-tariff, technical barrier to trade. Pakistan, like many other developing nations, could not reach the standard set by advanced nations and failed to export, losing their share in international trade. Actually, some of Pakistan’s agricultural produce is excellent in taste, and yet very competitive in price, but, due to a lack of sanitary and phytosanitary standards, could not export.
China is a huge country with an estimated population of 1.4 billion
Although the Chinese economy constitutes 15% of agriculture, with its rapid industrialization and shifting toward high tech and advanced technologies, the focus and cultivatable land is reducing gradually. On the other hand, with the improvement in individuals’ income, the demand for high quality and a wide variety of food is growing exponentially. China is the largest exporter of industrial products, but, is among one of the big importers of agricultural products, especially food-related. According to official statistics, China mainly imports agricultural goods from the USA (soybeans), Brazil (meat), Canada, New Zealand, and Australia (dairy products). China imports cotton yarn and rice from emerging Asian economies, like Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, and India traditionally.
Since the second phase of CPEC, where agriculture was emphasized, the trade trend kept on changing. Pakistan’s the growth in agriculture sector for the year 2018 shows a visible upward trend as compared to the previous years. Over the period from 2003 through 2018, the average growth rate in Pakistan’s agricultural exports is 27 percent, with the top three entries of cotton, rice, and seafood. China remains the largest destination for agricultural exports but there has been a rapid increase in exports to Australia, India, and United States too.
China has been collaborating in removing non-tariff trade barriers to its farm exports, based on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) concerns, enabling Pakistani agricultural products an acceptance in the international market. China has a great demand for meat and poultry and it could be a lucrative international market for Pakistan both countries have been working together to remove technical barriers like SPS and quarantine requirements.
The FMD free zone has been constructed within the territory of Pakistan according to the agreed common requirements of the parties, and the Chinese side had provided technical assistance and support. At present, there is no direct access for Pakistani meat and meat products to the Chinese market due to strict health and safety standards. China’s annual meat requirement is worth $12 to 15 billion.
Currently, meat from Pakistan is exported to Gulf countries, Vietnam and Malaysia
In fact, China is assisting Pakistan sincerely to up-lift quality standards and meet the export requirements, enabling it to enhance its exports in the international market.
The government of Pakistan is urged to introduce friendly policies for exports and introduce policy measures to enable the private sector to improve our exports. On the other hand, the private sector is also urged to avail of this opportunity and penetrate into the international market. Explore new markets and contribute toward the socio-economic development of the nation. Joint ventures with the Chinese will definitely help to upgrade our quality and facilitate exporting to the global markets.
Pakistan’s agriculture sector possesses huge potential and China is willing to extend a helping hand. Developments in the agriculture sector can have a positive impact on 60% population of Pakistan, as they are dependent on this sector directly or indirectly. This sector can help to overcome the menace of poverty too. There is a dire need to focus on this sector, modernization, mechanization, high-quality seeds, post-harvest technologies, etc., are top priorities in this regard.
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.