China becomes biggest importer of Pakistani agricultural products

ISLAMABAD: The Government of Pakistan sees a vast potential to enhance exports of agri-based products and food items to various countries, especially China, says a report published by WealthPK on Friday.

According to a work report prepared by the Ministry of Commerce, various regions have been identified, possessing a huge potential for enhancing exports of agriculture and food products.
The exports recorded $4.803 billion and $4.876 billion in 2019-20 and 2020-21 respectively, with cereals staying at the top during the last two fiscal years with a value of $2.212 billion in 2019-20 and $2.062 billion in 2020-21, the report said.

China remained the largest importer of food items from Pakistan in the last fiscal year with the import value of $701 million. Pakistan’s major food exports are rice, cereals, fruits and vegetables, fish and crustaceans, meat and edible meat offal and beverages.
Kausar Abbas Zaidi, Director General (Agro-Food) at the Ministry of Commerce, told WealthPK that his ministry was working on proposals to enhance food exports to China and other countries.

“The Ministry of Commerce has selected important products in this regard to work on,” he said, adding that the report highlighted product-wise trade opportunities.
Zaidi said the value of rice exports last year was $2.034 billion. “Rice is among the country’s top export products. The government has set $4 billion target of rice export for year 2025-26”, Zaidi continued.

He said the target was achievable, as the government was keen to explore new markets besides enhancing the quantity of exports to the current markets.
“Pakistan is currently engaged with China, Malaysia and the Philippines to obtain more market access for rice exports,” the DG said, adding that recently Russia had also allowed import of Pakistani rice. He said commodity exchange against rice was also allowed for Iran recently under a barter trade memorandum.

The government has come up with a planned mapping of crop area pesticide awareness in rice production regions of Pakistan as urgent measures, the DG said.
Declaring rice as an industry and dedicating quarantine area for rice exports are the medium term measures the government is working on, he added.

“Adopting sustainable farming and good agriculture practices with modern techniques are among long-term measures,” Zaidi informed.

The Director General said the global import of mango stood at $2.84 billion and Pakistan’s share in the world export was just 3.7% in terms of value and 6.7% in terms of volume. Pakistan’s mango exports registered a growth of 52% from $93 million in 2020 (May-October) to $140 million in 2021 for the same period, he said.

Currently, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the UK, Kazakhstan, Oman and Afghanistan are the top export destinations for Pakistani mangoes. China and Japan can be potential markets, Zaidi said.
“The profit margin of mango export to China and Japan is higher compared with the current export destinations. Pakistan can double mango export in terms of value by enhancing market share in China and Japan,” the director general added.

Zaidi said marketing, access to market, logistical support, improving supply chain network and government support could be key factors for enhancing mango exports.

Kinnow exports recorded $265 million during the last two fiscal years with Afghanistan, Russia, the Philippines and the UAE being the top export destinations. “Pakistan plans to enhance kinnow export to 5,13,000 tonnes by the fiscal year 2025-26 with a growth of 30 percent compared with the current volume, he said.

China can also be a great export destination for Pakistani kinnows in near future,” Dr Zaidi said, adding that the government needed to take steps to remove hurdles in kinnow exports.

Potato exports (fresh/chilled) increased by 10% from $78 million in 2019-20 to $86 million in 2020-21. The largest potential market for Pakistani potatoes was China, the official said. -INP