Chinese quarantine inspectors visited production facilities of cherries in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) from 23rd to 29th June, 2019, to approve the facilities meeting the Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary (SPS) requirements for export to China.

Under the second phase of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA), China has provided duty free access to Pakistani cherries. However, currently no production and processing facility of cherries in Pakistan is approved by the Chinese quarantine authorities. In the wake of the conclusion of CPFTA in the last week of April 2019, PHDEC organized the visit of Chinese inspectors on urgent basis for approval of production facilities. A two member team of Chinese inspectors, Mr. Duan Weijun and Mrs. Zhang Lijie, visited cherry orchards and pack houses in Gilgit Baltistan and collected the data on SPS conditions. The visit was jointly managed by the teams of PHDEC and Department of Plant Protection.

China annually imports around 185,000 metric tonnes (MT) of cherries worth US$ 1.3 billion, mainly from Chile (163,000 MT), USA (14,000 MT), Canada (5,500 MT), Australia (1,600 MT) and New Zealand (1,000 MT). Due to the high cost of airfreight from the far-off places, the landed price in China is around US$ 7 per kg. In view of the geographical proximity of GB with China, the cherries can be transported by road to Kashgar in around 8 hours at a nominal transportation cost. Therefore, the cherries, produced in GB, can find a ready market in China. Once the Chinese market is opened, due to the price premium, the production of cherries can be multiplied on fast track basis to meet the market demand. The visit of the Chinese quarantine inspectors is the first step towards opening the Chinese market for Pakistani cherries.

Mr. Duan weijun, the head of Chinese inspection team, in his concluding meeting with CEO PHDEC, Muhammad Ashraf, expressed his satisfaction at various aspects of the visit. “The cherries of GB are produced in completely natural environment and are almost organic”, he said.