GILGIT: Gilgit-Baltistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GBCCI) chief has complained to commerce Minister that Chinese officials at immigration and customs departments are violating protocols signed between the two countries by using tactics to discourage exports from Pakistan.
Meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastagir, GBCCI President Javed Hussain said, “Pakistani traders are facing problems at Chinese immigration and customs departments.”
Hussain further told the meeting that when local traders enter China via Khunjerab Pass located at 4,693 metres above sea level, they are made to wait for hours at the border under the open sky on one pretext or another. “It is difficult to stay outdoors for long periods at such a high altitude,” he said.
The chamber president held the “attitude” of Chinese authorities at the border responsible for declining exports to China.
According to Hussain, under a protocol signed by both countries in the 1970s, Pakistan is entitled to export a similar volume of goods to China as it sells to Pakistan. “However, our sales to China are 95% less than what it exports to us,” claimed Hussain.
Not any businessman would want to remain involved in the export business if they are subjected to such harsh treatment by Chinese immigration and customs officials,” he questioned.
Commerce Minister Dastagir assured local businessmen the issue would be taken up with the Chinese government. “Pakistan enjoys excellent ties with China and a proposed railway track will further cement these relations,” added Dastagir.
According to an official, Pakistan earns an annual revenue of Rs1 billion through its trade with China at Sost, the last town of G-B.
The traders also urged the federal government to award G-B the status of a tax-free zone and export processing zone to lure investors to the region. “Given that China is our neighbour and is interested in investing in Pakistan, making G-B a tax-free zone will be a golden opportunity for us,” said GBCCI chief Hussain.
In response, the federal minister said in the past, making certain regions export processing zones had not worked out well with the exception of Karachi. However, he added the option would be discussed by the government to examine its viability.
Dastagir is on a two-day official visit to Gilgit to meet local traders and explore avenues for boosting trade with China.