LAHORE, Sep. 7 – Since the beginning of this year, frozen aquatic products exported to China from Pakistani enterprises have been tested positive at least for 10 times and have been suspended from import declaration for one to eight weeks.
Mr. Ferroz Ali Gaba, CEO of Son of the Sea, said that his 20 containers were returned after a package sample of a batch of frozen tongue sole tested positive. “We are trying our best to improve our quality to meet China’s requirements. The aquatic industry has led to the development of many related industries, such as packaging, transportation, diesel, machinery, etc. There is great potential for China and Pakistan to collaborate in various fields of the industry.”
China has a huge consumer market for aquatic products and is one of the largest buyers in Pakistan. The main aquatic categories of Pakistan’s exportsto China includes ribbon fish, croakers, sole fish, cuttle fish, etc. “We are banned in Europe but China enables us to increase our export. Our seafood exports to China account for more than half of the total.” Ferroz Ali Gaba further said that, “regarding specific seafood in live status, we export to China by air. I hope our seafood export which is $450 million can be increased to $600 or 700 million .”
In order to maintain better product quality, seafood should be kept at minus 18 to 20 ℃in modern cold storage, but many exporters do not have such facilities. “We ship mostly by seainrefrigerated containers, and the freight cost has nearly doubled in the last 2 years. That is now a huge burden on the exporters.” Mr. Faisal Iftikhar, CEO, Deep Blue Seafoods(Pvt.) Ltd recommended China to encourage Pakistani exporters who want to establish flake ice factories, processing units adopting modern technology.
“It is necessary to educate fishermen to come back from fishing in 6 days to maintain the good quality of their catches.” Ferroz Ali Gaba explained that, “we need experts to educate people for the betterment of fisheries. China by collaboration with the Pakistani government can start awareness programs, training and workshops for exporters and common fishermen.”
Faisal Iftikhar highlighted that stocks in Pakistan is depleting at a fast pace. In order to improve its exports, learning marine aqua culture is critical. This is the area where the opportunity is great for Pak-China collaboration. China by collaboration with the Pakistani government can ask its quality experts of aquatic products to visit Pakistan fishery and give their suggestions to the Pakistani government regarding cold chain food safety.
Local exporters and factories owners have faced huge losses during the epidemic. Muhammad Zafar Kundi, Chairman of Pakistan Fisheries Exporters Association (PAKFEA) pointed out that they store large quantities of stock in the freezer for seasonal sale. When COVID-19broke out, exporters with stocks had to face billions of dollars of losses and factory work flows were reduced to 50%. Companies that process fish are also under great stress of electricity bills.
Muhammad Zafar believes that the Pakistani fishing industry is hugely attractive to Chinese investors, and the Pakistani fishing community welcomes Chinese investors as they can get jobs and good prices from foreign investors. “Gwadar is the main hub, and many Chinese companies are interested in running seafood companies there and hope to invest in the future. With the construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), more and more Chinese companies will operate their companies in Pakistan and export to China.”
The cost of a joint venture between China and Pakistani factories that process fish or fish-related products to provide them with modern machinery is likely to be halved. He also suggested duty be lifted from seafood items.