How Pakistan could gain from US-China trade war

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There is a visible divide in the world, between China and the United States. For the past three decades, the US enjoyed unique superpower status, as the world emerged as unipolar after the disintegration of the USSR. However, that unipolar order has been challenged by the rise of China.

In the recent past, the West has realized that China has grown to become the second-largest economy of the world just after the US, and is emerging as a geopolitical global power. Western concerns grew rapidly, especially in the US, which felt threatened that it might lose its status as the only superpower and that the world might emerge into a bipolar order.

After Donald Trump came to power as president of the United States, a visible change was witnessed in the US administration. The recently launched trade war between Beijing and Washington is getting out of control. The response on the Chinese side was passive initially, as it tried its best to resolve all issues amicably. But ultimately it had to respond in the same manner.

Although the Sino-US trade war may harm the two main players, there are also many challenges to be faced by the whole world. But there are opportunities at the same time. Some countries may lose, while others may gain. Pakistan is in the process of forming a new government, and the new administration should take this challenge and turn it into opportunity.

Chinese imports from the US are mostly agricultural produce. Pakistan is a natural agricultural country. Its climate and hard-working workforce are a blessing for the nation.

Pakistan is among the top 10 producers of many crops such as rice, wheat, cotton, sugarcane, milk, meat, mangos, chickpeas, and citrus fruits. But because of a poor economy and lack of modern techniques and technology, it has not been able to exploit its strength in the agriculture sector fully. However, China’s experience in agriculture has been very successful, and the progress it has made in this sector during the past four decades is amazing.

China was facing food shortages just 40 years ago, but with its reforms in the agriculture sector from 1978-84, it successfully turned shortages into surpluses, and began exporting produce to other countries and generating foreign exchange. China pulled around 500 million people out of poverty within just six years of its reforms in the agriculture sector.

Chinese scientists, technologists and farmers worked very hard, developed new varieties and new techniques, and the country modernized its farming patterns. Now Chinese agricultural enterprises are mature, experienced and financially strong.

They could enter Pakistan’s huge untapped huge market and make joint ventures with local entrepreneurs to exploit the real potential of Pakistan’s agriculture sector. This would help Pakistan’s economy to take off and would also be a good opportunity for Chinese entrepreneurs to make good profits as well as compensate for any disturbance caused by US export of agricultural produce.

Pakistan’s agriculture sector has potential to grow, and China may be a good market. The incoming government led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) needs to introduce friendly policies and extend the role of facilitator, while the private sector needs a little push and can do the rest.

Export policies should be formulated with the close consultation of stakeholders. They are the country’s frontline solders in earning foreign exchange. They deserve incentive-based policies. We Pakistanis need to learn from our past and move forward, without repeating the same mistakes.

The new leadership has vision, sincerity and public support. The PTI-led government is in a position to deliver and take the nation out of crisis.

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