ISLAMABAD—Following the opening of the China-Pakistan border on April 1, Pakistan is now permitted to export cherries to China. In a letter sent to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) has indicated that it will conduct remote inspections of orchards and cold treatment facilities for the export of fresh cherries from Pakistan to China via video investigations.
The cherry orchards in Gilgit-Baltistan provide a livelihood for numerous families due to the seasonal nature of the fruit, which has a limited shelf life. The region produces a range of cherries, including black, red, and French cherries. In addition to local markets, cherry traders in Gilgit-Baltistan have expanded their sales by distributing cherries to other parts of Pakistan.
Pakistan and China have been collaborating since 2019 to create an export agreement for fresh cherries from Pakistan to China, which includes rigorous quarantine measures and cold treatment facilities. The opening of the China-Pakistan border on April 1 has allowed the Chinese government to import cherries from Pakistan, boosting the potential for export growth and presenting a significant opportunity for the local cherry industry to flourish. With China being the largest consumer of cherries worldwide, this could have a significant impact on Pakistan’s economy. Moreover, under the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement, Pakistani cherries are eligible for export to China with zero tariffs.
At present, just 10% of the cherries cultivated in Gilgit-Baltistan are being exported—representing $1.77m in revenue—indicating room for expansion. China, which purchases over 200,000 tons of cherries each year, is expected to accelerate the growth of Pakistan’s cherry sector by endorsing the import of Pakistani cherries into its market. This authorisation could stimulate the domestic cherry industry in Pakistan and lead to substantial growth opportunities.
According to Gu Wenliang, the Agriculture Commissioner at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, it is “crucial” for cherry orchards in Pakistan to prioritise environmentally-friendly production methods and emphasise the biological control of quarantine pests during the planting process. Wenliang emphasised that all cherries exported to China must undergo specialised cold treatment. Additionally, he noted that improvements must be made to the conditions of cold treatment facilities, as well as the sanitary practices used during processing, packaging, storage, and transportation of cherries.