- Chinese buying of Pakistan-made goods fell sharply in the first half of 2016-17 to $770 million against $1.02 billion a year ago
- Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong said that Pakistan is not producing the goods that are needed in China
In a rare show of candour, a Chinese envoy has said that China has little interest in importing goods produced in Pakistan. It would be ready to import only after Chinese factories are established in Pakistan, and they begin manufacturing, the envoy said.
Explaining the reason behind the China-Pakistan trade imbalance, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong said that Pakistan is not producing the goods that are needed in China. But the situation will change when Chinese companies start producing such products in Pakistan, he said during a meeting with leaders of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) in Islamabad, according to several media reports.
The statement confirms rising concerns that Pakistani business may have little to gain from the much-hyped China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) because it would largely benefit Chinese business. New infrastructure would not only provide construction contracts, they will also help to create the right situation for establishing Chinese factories.
Despite promises of support from China, which describes itself as Pakistan’s “iron brother”, Chinese buying of Pakistan-made goods fell sharply in the first half of 2016-17 to $770 million against $1.02 billion a year ago. The full year data for 2016-17 is not yet available but early indications show a steep slide.Pakistan’s exports to China has been continuously falling from $2.69 in 2013-14 to $1.9 billion in 2015-16.
Compared to these numbers, China has been promising the moon painting a picture of 16-fold increase in Pakistani exports.
“Pakistan can enhance its exports to $35 billion for which serious efforts are needed,” Sun was quoted by the Pakistani media as saying during discussions with FPCCI leaders.
Such tall claims have raised serious questions which are being voiced by a section of Pakistani intelligensia and the media.
“There is a fear lurking in the shadows of CPEC that a time will soon come when the Chinese will start dictating terms and priorities rather than negotiating them,” the Dawn in Pakistan said in an editorial on Sunday.
“As an increasing number of Chinese enterprises acquire stakes in Pakistan’s economy, and as the government takes out more and more loans from Chinese state-owned banks for the balance of payments support, the space to negotiate and protect our own interests diminishes,” it said.
This was evident in the manner China asked Pakistan to refuse a loan offer by the Asian Development Bank, and use a single source funding from a Chinese bank for the $8bn Peshawar-Karachi railway line project, the paper pointed out.
It advised Islamabad to be tougher during negotiations with China, and ensure that Pakistan’s interests are protected.
Responding to concerns expressed by the Pakistani business community, Sun said no Chinese company would be allowed to install used machinery in Pakistan and transfer of technology would be made a prerequisite.
“Settling energy crisis in Pakistan is our top priority and we will add 11,000 megawatts of electricity to the national grid as soon as possible through highly efficient power plants,” he said.
“After overcoming the energy crisis, we will develop infrastructure and in the last leg initiate the process of industrialisation,” the Chinese envoy said. He emphazied that security arrangements in economic zones must be enhanced to ensure the safety of Chinese experts working in Pakistan.
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