‘US-China trade war opportunity for Pakistani businesses to tap Chinese market’

ISLAMABAD: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Federal Secretary General Ahmad Jawad on Sunday said that Pakistan should immediately look to explore the massive Chinese market to reduce the prevailing deficit in the Pak-China trade in the wake of the ongoing US-China trade war.

“The Chinese market alone is sufficient to absorb the exports of Pakistan,” he emphasised, adding that the trade war had cut down massive imports of China which the local market could supply for the benefit of both countries.

In this regard, the FPCCI official suggested that Pakistan must increase the production of barley for exporting to China as they have a large consumption scale of barley.

“In 2019, barley production for Pakistan was only 63 thousand tonnes. Though production fluctuated substantially in recent years, it tended to decrease through 1970 – 2019, ending at 63 thousand tonnes in 2019.”

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Jawad said that recently China had halted its import of barley from Australia’s largest barley exporter in the midst of the US-China trade war, as the latter has shown its inclination towards the US by sending ships to the South China Sea for joint naval exercises with the US and India. The suspension was brought into action on the basis of pest contamination in the imported product.

The tussle had started when China imposed 80 per cent tariffs on Australia’s barley export. Now, the import suspension has not only put the credibility of Australia’s barley exports at risk but also shrunken the graph of barley export as China had been importing barley no lesser than $500 million per annum.

“Pakistan must capitalise from the present situation by increasing barley production for its all-weather friend, China, as it will not only help the country exploit China’s enormous market but also help China in reducing transportation costs spent on cargo ships,” the FPCCI official said.

“To grow more barley does not include any rocket science; Pakistan’s soil is suitable for the production of barley, the only need is to make people realise how much they can gain by growing barley,” he said, adding that it may also assist in doing away with unemployment.

Furthermore, he said that the introduction of technology in the agriculture sector under the agenda list of the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can be manipulated to improve barley production in Pakistan.

According to a report published by Japan, the US-China trade war could lead to countries like Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, and other countries to fill the vacuum whereas Pakistan may emerge as a major player in this race.

“Undoubtedly, India is a massive market. Had there been no stand-off in Laddakh region, India would have massively capitalised on China’s farewell to Australia’s barley exports. It will be a disgraceful and extreme level of inefficiency if Pakistan still does not learn to exploit the US-China trade war,” Jawad stated.

The FPCCI official said that Pakistan has been hapless in exploiting its own resources owing to a lack of proper technique, as well as of good governance.

He regretted that Himalayan Pink salt, which he said was the country’s national pride, is sold at very cheap rates to countries like India.

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