Feature: Pakistani commodities make a splash at China-ASEAN Expo
Handmade carpets of exotic design, woodcarvings, jewelry and woolen scarves -- products from Pakistan were all the rage with visitors to the 17th China-ASEAN Expo, which concluded in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, on Monday.
Yang Hua, a visitor from Guangdong Province, said that, of all the international exhibitions at the expo, she was most impressed by the Pakistani booths.
"My friends and I all love the hand-carved wooden furniture and woolen scarves from Pakistan. They are handy and have unique designs," said Yang.
The four-day expo saw Pakistan participating as a Special Partner Country for the first time. A total of 14 Pakistani exhibitors brought their country's best handicrafts and products to display at the expo. The country also held a trade-and-investment promotion event on the sidelines.
Ahmed Aqeel, CEO of a Pakistani jewelry company, brought his firm's best collections of gemstones to showcase at a booth, which was always packed with visitors.
"The visitors have kept me busy all day," Aqeel said. "I will surely come back next year."
"This year's China-ASEAN Expo has brought immense opportunities for Pakistani business people like me," said Ihsan Ullah, general manager of a Guangdong-based company, who has been engaging in trade between China and Pakistan for more than 10 years.
Ullah said he mainly sells Pakistani handicrafts, garments and leather products to China and has seen these products become increasingly popular with Chinese consumers.
"The expo also allows us to meet more Chinese business partners," Ullah said. "It's not easy for China to hold the expo at such a time, and I really cherish the opportunities brought by the event."
Pakistani Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque said at the expo that bilateral trade between Pakistan and China has surged in the past few years, since a free-trade agreement between the two countries took effect in 2007.
Data from China's commerce ministry shows that trade volume between the two countries stood at about 18 billion U.S. dollars last year, more than double the amount in 2008. China is now Pakistan's biggest trading partner.
The ambassador said the scope and potential of the mutually beneficial trade has further increased with the signing of the second phase of the free-trade agreement last year.
In mid-November, a total of 15 Asia-Pacific countries, including China and ASEAN's 10 member states, signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world's biggest trade pact.
Muhammad Irfan, trade and investment counselor from the Consulate General of Pakistan in Guangzhou, said the RCEP will help create a better regional economic environment that will also help facilitate trade among Pakistan, China and ASEAN countries.