“Pakistan can make active use of the China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Canton Fair in Guangzhou and other product-specific platforms exhibitions in China to increase its foreign exchange reserves.” Mr. Muhammad Irfan, Trade and Investment Counselor, Consulate General of Pakistan in Guangzhou, China highlighted in a recent exclusive interview with China Economic Net.
During the 19th China-ASEAN Expo, which was held from September 16 to 19, the Counselor told China Economic Net reporter, “insufficient foreign exchange reserves has been a very serious problem for Pakistan in the past few years, especially in recent months. Export is an important means to increase foreign exchange reserves and displaying and selling Pakistani products through exhibitions can effectively promote the popularity and export of products to China and other ASEAN countries.”
Pakistan exported a range of distinctive products through the exhibition, such as textiles, carpets, sporting goods, marble, furniture, etc. Muhammad Kamil, a Pakistani exhibitor, said that the Chinese love Pakistani handicrafts so much that they have signed short and long-term contracts with Pakistani exhibitors, many of whom are repeat customers.
Pakistan has been participating in the China-ASEAN Expo for many years. A larger Pakistan pavilion has also been on display for the last two years. Each time, about 20 or more exhibitors participate in Pakistan’s national platform and trade development.
The signing of the second phase of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement in 2019 allowed 313 more Pakistani products to enjoy duty-free access to the Chinese market. These include textiles including garments, leather and leather products and fish. Mr. Muhammad Irfan mentioned that the Consulate General is working on issues related to the export of Pakistani fruits, meat and dairy products to China. He added, “despite travel restrictions caused by the pandemic, Pakistan’s exports to China have almost doubled in the past three years. Pakistan’s export to China crossed $2.40 billion in the first eight months of this year, up 6.23 percent year on year. And we still have $3 billion in potential exports to China.”
The Chinese government has given preferential treatment to Pakistani products, but many Chinese consumers are curious to know what kind of products Pakistan can offer. “By building such pavilions at the expo, more Chinese people can learn about Pakistani products, which are of good quality, cost-effective, and from a friendly country to China.” the Counselor said.
The Counselor further explained, “in the past two to three years, we have been introducing non-traditional Pakistani products like biscuits, sweets and drinks, which are also highly popular with the Chinese customers. We are also promoting Pakistani mangoes through B2B and B2C linkages. Numerous people in Guangzhou have asked to buy Pakistani mangoes. This year we have started efforts to introduce mango pulp and mango juice into the Chinese market.”
Apart from its active participation in the on-site exhibition, Pakistan has opened online Pakistan pavilions on Chinese e-commerce platforms. The Counselor believes that e-commerce is one of the most modern channels to keep and observe the latest developments in international trade. Pakistan’s national pavilion was launched at China’s e-commerce giant JD.com last year.
“The new phenomenon of selling products to online platforms has been very successful in China and we are trying to promote Pakistan on e-commerce platforms as well.” the Counselor revealed that they are also working on some other e-commerce platforms, “in the near future, B2B contacts will also be established through online platforms. In this way, the seller will have a direct contract through the easy commerce platforms to the consumers so that linkages will directly enhance the exposure of exporter, access to buyers over new products and visibility of the products which will help in brand loyalty in future.”
At the recent SCO Summit held in Samarkand, China and Pakistan signed cooperation documents in railway, e-commerce and other fields. In this regard, the Counsellor said that Chinese brothers and sisters from all walks of life have extended helping hands to Pakistan in the recent devastating floods that have caused huge damage to the country’s infrastructure. China is a global leader in modern railways and it is believed that with China’s help, Pakistan can have new trains and good railway tracks.