THIS refers to the news story ‘No headway in $1bn China market access package’ (Dec 2). I was the first one to openly say that China cannot grant more favourable import tariffs to Pakistan products to enter China vis-à-vis agreement with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) where customs tariff has reached near zero.
Though it is China’s sincere intentions to support Pakistan in its trade balance, international agreements are an impediment. The ministry of commerce then later admitted that it is Asean which is the main hurdle in its exports to China.
Why is Pakistan not exploring the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) despite being a full member? Besides many other objectives of SCO, economic and trade is also one of the objectives of cooperation between SCO states.
Chinese President Xi Jinping in his speech on June 9, 2017, in Astana, Kazakhstan, during the SCO summit, offered free trade with China to SCO member states.
Moreover, the SCO and Asean have also signed a memorandum of understanding in 2005 for cooperation which surely will help China under the SCO to give more trade preferential to Pakistan. Thus the objective of Pakistani goods export of over three to four billion dollars in two to three years may become a reality.
If entry through this channel becomes possible from the tariff point of view, Pakistan must not forget to discuss non-tariff barriers of sanitary, phytosanitary and harmonisation efforts to be undertaken for accepting each others’ standards under mutual recognition agreement.
Ministries of commerce, industry, agriculture and foreign affairs should sit together to find ways and means to avail of this opportunity.
Zafar Hasan Khan
Director, Pak-China Business Council of FPCCI
Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2018