Source: Global Times Published: 2019-12-15
China and Pakistan have agreed to launch a "Green Corridor" system that will fast-track two-way customs clearance exclusively for agricultural products, according to a statement from China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Thursday.
The Green Corridor is expected to be launched between the Khunjerab pass in China and Sust pass in Pakistan. With the simplified clearance procedures and future improvement of transportation facilities, more agricultural products are expected to be imported from Pakistan, experts said.
Agriculture is the lifeline of the Pakistani economy. In 2017-2018, the agriculture sector grew 3.8 percent, and accounted for 24 percent of GDP, according to statistics from the MOFCOM.
As China becomes the biggest importer of agricultural products in the world, the rising demand will boost the agricultural sector in Pakistan, Zhou Rong, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Sunday.
"Key imports of agricultural products from Pakistan include rice and cotton," Zhou said. "Agricultural imports from Pakistan still account for a very limited amount of China's total imports, but as the market grows and as production and quality inspection standards are standardized, more products from Pakistan can be expected in the Chinese market."
The total exports of the top three agricultural products from Pakistan accounted for only 2 percent of China's total imports in 2015, according to the MOFCOM. Zhou noted that for Pakistani products to enter the Chinese market in large quantity, transportation needs to be further improved apart from the simplification of custom procedures.
"Due to geographical conditions and extreme regional weather, many products involved in bilateral trade are still airborne, adding to the cost of transportation," Zhou said.
To improve Pakistan's overall trade performance, China offered Pakistan export concessions on 313 new items under the second phase of the free trade agreement between Pakistan and China signed during Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to China in April this year, the Xinhua News Agency reported earlier this month.
The agreement took effect on December 1, allowing Pakistani manufacturers and traders to export 313 new products duty-free to the Chinese market, according to Xinhua.
Zhou Rong is a senior felllow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.