Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

10 March 2020, Tuesday

Coronavirus to affect Pakistan’s Industries 

Pakistan receives assistance for locust control from China; Pakistan world’s 11th largest arms importer: SIPRI

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

Main Story

Fallouts of the Coronavirus on Pakistan’s Industries 

Lakshmi V Menon 

The first report by Pakistan’s inter-ministerial Trade Advisory Committee (TAC), stressing hazards of reduction in bilateral trade with China and delay in supply chain of Chinese-produced intermediate goods and raw materials since the coronavirus outbreak in December 2019 has been compiled. It analyses preparedness to deal with a detrimental impact on Pakistan’s domestic economy with respect to fluctuations in global trade owing to the COVID-19 crisis. Numerous government agencies and departments were assigned for consultations with relevant investors. (Dawn, 10 March 2020)

TAC comes in the wake of global institutions reviewing impact of coronavirus on the global market. Delay in supplies, faced by importers, was recorded after reviews of over 12 trade sectors including electric fans, marble, cosmetics, auto, rice, surgical instruments, leather, textile and readymade garments. Stocks are expected to last for another 30 days. However, industries express confidence in restoration of activities by then. The province of Hubei alone may require two months however.

As per reports, for the textile industry, due to global diversion of orders from China to Pakistan, the latter would experience greater export to EU and US. Local industries are already operating on full capacity to meet the increasing exports orders from them. Pakistan’s leather sector is said to be affected by Iran’s corona crisis due to the former’s dependency on raw skin of sheep imported from Iran. Pakistan’s sea food exports to Thailand will reduce as Bangkok’s tourism industry has been struck badly by the coronavirus outbreak. Sectors of cutlery, cable manufacturers, marble and steel manufacturers are optimistic about the resuming of supplies in a month’s time. The government had banned import of live animals and birds from China.

Exports of masks, a lucrative export with the current state of affairs, was stopped by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan; thus, a bad move. During the first 24 days of February 2020, Pakistan’s trade has suffered as exports fell by $28million and imports fell by $137million. Rice, chromium ores, ethyl alcohol, cotton fabric, cotton yarn, flour, raw leather, marble, natural steatite, vegetable saps, natural sands, sacks and bags were among the top declining exports. Contrastingly, in textiles, iron ores, copper articles, aluminum articles, plastics, bird skins, tools, cutlery, and hosiery items, imports had surged. Reduction in import was seen in items such as electrical machinery and equipment, medical and surgical instrument, plastics, footwear, synthetic yarn, ceramics, fertilisers, chemicals and rubber articles. In February, the most significant reduction in Pakistan’s exports to China was experienced in rice. The rice (particularly Irri-6) will probably be diverted to Africa.

Meanwhile, officials say that China’s port operations are slowly coming back to normalcy.


In brief

Pakistan receives assistance for locust control from China 

Lakshmi V Menon

On 10 March 2020, The Express Tribune reported that China, as promised in February 2020, had delivered the pesticide sprays to Pakistan to combat locusts threatening Pakistan’s food security. On 9 March, the first batch including 14 high-efficiency air-powered remote sprayers and 50 tons of malathion (insecticide) arrived. Chinese Consul General Li Bijian assured that the remaining material, 70 drones, would reach in another two weeks. Despite the coronavirus outbreak, China prioritized “its friend and brother Pakistan(’s)” need, the Consul added.

In February 2020, at a media briefing, Beijing had promised Islamabad malathion, specialized remote sprayers, plant protection drones and other equipment to tackle locust infestation affecting a large part of Pakistan. On February 23, China’s locust eradication team led by the National Agricultural Technology Extension Service Centre chief expert Wang Fengle and encompassing multi-departmental specialists reached Pakistan. Field inspections have been conducted in Sindh, Punjab and Baluchistan along with experts from

Pakistan’s plant protection departments and food ministry.  In 2019, Pakistan experienced its worst locust attack since 1993. Fields in Baluchistan, Punjab and Sindh were severely struck. Livestock pastures along with wheat, cotton and corn crops were severely impacted, detrimentally affecting the country’s food security. This resulted in Prime Minister Imran Khan declaring a state of emergency in February 2020. Later, China was approached for assistance.

In brief

Pakistan world’s 11th largest arms importer: SIPRI

Lakshmi V Menon

A report published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) on 9 March 2020, ranked Pakistan as the world’s eleventh largest arms importer. (Dawn, 10 March 2020)

Sipri’s senior researcher Siemon T. Wezeman said “in 2019 India and Pakistan – which are nuclear-armed states – attacked each other using an array of imported major arms”. “Many of the world’s largest arms exporters have supplied these two states for decades, often exporting arms to both sides,” he added. 

Noteworthy observations were drawn regarding Pakistan’s global arms acquisition by Sipri’s recent report. First, China alone provided 73 per cent of total arms imported by Pakistan between 2015-19 and 51 per cent between 2010-14. Second, Pakistan ranked among top three weapons purchasers of chief exporters like Italy and Turkey. Between 2015-19, Pakistan bought 7.5 per cent and 12 per cent of its arms import from Italy and Turkey respectively. Third, arms import by Pakistan and India, between 2010-14 and 2015-19, dropped by 39 per cent and 32 per cent respectively. Fourth, between 2010-14 and 2015-19, US accounted for 30 per cent and 4.1 per cent of Pakistan’s arms import. 

The drop in Pakistan’s arms import is directly proportional to the US decision to withhold military aid to Islamabad. However, Pakistan fortified arms import from Turkey (four frigates and 30 combat helicopters in 2018) and continued import from Europe.

According to Sipri, during the cross-border skirmishes with India in early 2019, Pakistan utilized Russian-engine powered Chinese combat aircrafts, Swedish control aircrafts and US-made combat aircrafts. Meanwhile, India deployed Russian and French combat aircrafts, Israeli guided bombs and Swedish artillery. Despite arms domestication efforts, India and Pakistan largely depended on arms import. Since 2015, India has been the second largest importer of arms globally, the report said.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) is a Sweden-based institute that conducts research on arms control, conflict, disarmament and armament globally.

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