China has become the largest foreign investor in Pakistan. Under the CPEC it has invested almost $30 billion and is committed to invest more in the future.
By Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan
China and Pakistan are closet friends and with relations covering political, diplomatic, economic, and defense dimensions. Irrespective of whatsoever happening in the region or geopolitics, the ties between the two countries have remained undeterred.
On the economic front, China has become the largest foreign investor in Pakistan. Under the CPEC it has invested almost $30 billion and is committed to invest more in the future, particularly focusing on investment in the power sector and infrastructure development. The next stage of the CPEC is focused on agriculture and industries sectors.
The trade between two brotherly nations is growing. Chinese Government is well aware and has been taking several measures to boost Pakistani exports to China, like special concessions to carnitine inspections for Pakistani agricultural products. As a result, Pakistani mangos and cherries are getting popularity in Chinese markets. The export of Pakistani chili and sesame seeds are also results of Chinese incentive based policies especially designed for Pakistan.
Chinese initiatives to import cooked/semi-cooked meat is also aimed to export Pakistani meat to China. China is one of the largest importer of meat, and Pakistan was out of this market for many years. But, with new policy, Pakistan has already started to export its beef to China.
Opening of the Khunjrab Pass also helped boost Pakistani exports. Recently China built an airport in Tashkarkund the first bordering city with China is also aimed to enhance trade between the two countries. Pakistan will be largest beneficiary of this airport for increasing its exports to China.
A new air cargo route was launched on January 13, 2024 linking Ezhou Huahu Airport in Central China’s Hubei province with Lahore in Pakistan. Hubei Province is located in the center of China, and very well connected with all major cities in China. Rail, road, air and shipping is very much developed and cargo can reach any part of China conveniently.
The Ezhou-Lahore cargo route is the first international route launched by SF Airlines in this year departing from Ezhou Huahu Airport, China’s first cargo-focused airport. Reciprocally, Lahore is well connected with all parts of Pakistan and is ideally located for import/export business.
Three weekly round-trip air cargo flights are scheduled between Ezhou and the provincial capital city Lahore. The frequency of flights depends on the volume of cargo, and if justifies, can be increased in the future. This new route will bring a total of around 300 tons of air express capacity per week, sustaining logistics between China and Pakistan with efficient and stable air transport services.
The Ezhou Huahu Airport, which began operations in July 2022, is a cargo-focused hub airport with extensive cargo traffic and some passenger traffic. In April 2023, it opened its first international cargo route.
SF Airlinesto date has launched a total of 11 international cargo routes from Ezhou to global destinations. If other cities in Pakistan justifies the cargo volume may ask to operate from other cities in Pakistan too.
China is a sincere friend of Pakistan and understands the Pakistan’s economic challenges. And genuinely assisting Pakistan in over-coming the economic challenges. China has been instrumental in improving the export capacity of Pakistan and providing all necessary support, training, technology etc.
Currently, China is not only the largest exporter, but also the largest importer too. Pakistan may avail the opportunities and improve exports to China. China enjoys the highest purchasing power in the entire world. If they like something, they can pay any price. It mean the opportunity is there. Fortunately, Pakistani products enjoys a good reputation in China. Our Exporters are urged to maintain the quality of their products exported to China and maintain the good will of Pakistani products in Chinese market.
Pakistani entrepreneurs are also urged to explore the non-traditional products of Pakistan to export to China, it might require the governments support initially, but the potential exits and can benefit Pakistan ailing economy. It is absolutely necessary to understand Chinese governance system and incentives for export to China. Various chambers of commerce and industries in Pakistan, having research and development cells, may study on China with highly focused on exports.
China is willing to assist Pakistan in its economic take-off, but, it is prime duty of for Pakistanis to work hard, wok smartly, and understand China. Be vigilant, think wisely, and consistently work hard, China may become our export destination soon.
The writer is the Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist, Diplomat, Editor, Analyst, Consultant, Advisor, and Non-Resident Fellow of CCG. He can be reached via (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).