ISLAMABAD: China has agreed to increase its imports from Pakistan to $2.2 billion by end of 2018-19 from the existing level of $1.2bn and to $3.2bn by end of next fiscal year, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Industry and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood said on Wednesday.
He was addressing a joint press briefing along with Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Khusro Bakhtiar.
“We wanted China to give Pakistan market access and increase tariff lines with similar conditions that it had offered to Bangladesh and member countries of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean),” the adviser said.
“Keeping in view the lengthy process of amending the priority list tariff lines between the two countries, Chinese Premier Li had assured the Pakistani side to enhance its imports from Pakistan immediately,” he added.
On the occasion, the adviser said that media was misquoting Minister for Finance Asad Umar by reporting that the country’s exports would be doubled within the current year. “In fact, the finance minister had said that Pakistan’s export to China would be doubled by end of current year.”
Mr Dawood said the government and private sector must identify potential areas — including textile, leather, agriculture, surgical goods, and light engineering — for enhancing exports to China.
The adviser said that unless ‘export culture’ flourishes in the country, the current account deficit issue cannot be addressed on a permanent basis. “We cannot pay debt by borrowing more.” The government, he said, was determined to facilitate local industry to enhance exports and to provide proper facilitation at the ports.
Mr Dawood underlined the need to develop and promote local industrial sectors on modern lines to produce competitive products.
On the occasion, the planning minister said that during the recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China, the two sides signed agreements for cooperation in various sectors including agriculture and elimination of poverty from the country.
He said the scope of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had also been enhanced. Development of the mega-project has now entered into the second phase which is industrial cooperation, he added.
The minister said that he would be visiting China in December to attend the annual Joint Coordination Committee on CPEC in Beijing where further breakthrough is expected.
Mr Bakhtiar said the previous governments had not paid attention to the development of Gwadar port and city. “However this government is giving top priority to the port and city’s development,” he said.
“Every year, Pakistan imports crude petroleum oil worth of $16bn. If an oil refinery is established in Gwadar, Pakistan would be able to save its import bill worth over $7bn,” he stressed.
Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2018