Pakistani fresh cherries gaining market access in China

During Pakistani Prime Minister Shabaz’s visit to China earlier this month, the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) and the Ministry of Food Security and Research of Pakistan signed the Protocol on Phytosanitary Requirements for Export of Fresh Cherries from Pakistan to China by exchanging signed texts, thus marking that fresh cherries produced in Pakistan have won China’s market access.

According to a report released by the Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives of Pakistan, cherries in Pakistan mainly come from Baluchistan and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) regions, with a planting area of about 5,931 acres and a yield of approximately 6,000 tons, which is about 2/3 of the world average. The ministry estimates that 10% of the cherries are available for export currently, worth about $1.77 million, with a broad space for further export. There is a huge demand for imported cherries in the Chinese market. China imports more than 200,000 tons of cherries annually, making it the world’s largest consumer of cherries.

The approval of Pakistani cherries to enter the Chinese market is expected to drive the development of Pakistan’s domestic cherry industry, Dr. Gu Wenliang, Agricultural Commissioner of the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, said in a recent interview with China Economic Net. He added, “China and Pakistan can cooperate to introduce Chinese technology to expand the planting area of cherries, improve the unit yield and fruit quality, and invest in the construction of cold treatment facilities, which will not only meet the demand of the Chinese market but also bring foreign exchange earnings to Pakistan.”

Since 2019, relevant Chinese and Pakistani departments have initiated risk analysis for the export of fresh cherries from Pakistan to China. The two sides have reached an agreement on the list of quarantine pest and cold treatment conditions and finally signed the export protocol.

Dr.Gu informed that Pakistan’s cherry orchards should focus on environmental-friendly production and biological control of quarantine pests should be enhanced during cultivation. “All cherries exported to China must be treated cold. Conditions of cold treatment facilities and sanitary conditions during processing, packaging, storage, and shipping of cherries need to be further improved,” suggested him.

Explaining the transportation Dr. Gu said that fresh cherries are of high value and those produced in Baluchistan can be exported from Pakistan to China by air-cooling. “As Pakistan Customs further improves its inspection and quarantine facilities at Suster Pass, cherries produced in the GB region can also be exported to China via refrigerated containers at Khunjerab Pass,” added him.

Under the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement, cherries from Pakistan that meet the requirements can enjoy zero tariffs when exported to China. According to the Protocol on Plant Quarantine Requirements of Pakistan Fresh Cherries Exported to China, the exported cherry orchards, packaging plants, refrigerated warehouses, and related processing facilities must be reviewed and filed by the Ministry of Food Security and Research of Pakistan, and the ministry will provide the list of names to GACC for approval and registration.

Since November 2021, China and Pakistan have signed four protocols on exports of agricultural products to China including onions, buffalo embryo, Rhodes Grass, and fresh cherries. At present, the two sides are carrying out risk analysis on the export of dried chilies, potatoes, dairy products, cooked beef, and other agricultural products to China.