ISLAMABAD: China has offered to set up foot and mouth disease-free zones in Pakistan in a bid to provide market access for the export of meat and its products.
At present, there is no direct access for Pakistani meat and meat products to the Chinese market due to strict health and safety standards. However, the Middle East is a big market for such products from Pakistan.
The foot and mouth disease proves fatal for the cattle and sheep that can cause a severe loss to the economy. The Ministry of National Food Security and Research is already working in collaboration with provincial governments to eradicate the disease in Pakistan. For that purpose, technical support is also being provided by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.
Pakistan’s meat exports are not encouraging as exporters mainly target Middle Eastern markets. Shipments of meat and meat preparation to overseas markets increased just 2.26% to $225.646 million in financial year 2017-18.
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Kashif Akram, an exporter of meat and meat products, told The Express Tribune that China had not given Pakistani exporters direct access to its market because of its health and safety standards. He pointed out that different agreements were signed by previous governments, but no serious attention was paid to the matter. However, he revealed that the exporters were sending meat to China via Vietnam.
He emphasised that Pakistani exporters were meeting the health and safety standards and were exporting meat to markets of Middle Eastern countries. He suggested that as China was a big market, Pakistan could export an equal volume to it as that being exported to the Middle East at present.
According to officials, a Pakistani delegation is currently on a trip to China and it is expected to make some progress on getting access to the Chinese market. The Chinese side has already indicated its intention to provide market access for the export of meat and its products from Pakistan by establishing foot and mouth disease-free zones.
Provincial governments have endorsed China’s plan of setting up disease-free zones as it will provide an opportunity to tap a huge export market.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2018.