Pakistani exporters have demanded the inclusion of semi-processed marble in the Sino Pak Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as currently the export of raw material to China is not benefiting the marble industry. Pakistan sends almost 50 percent of its marble exports to China and this huge share of export is based on the raw material which is zero rated under the FTA. The raw material currently being exported to China is re-exported from China after value addition which is hurting the marble industry in Pakistan. In a recent letter the All Pakistan Marble Mining Processing Industry & Exporters Association (APMMPIEA) has demanded that the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and Ministry of Commerce include the semi-processed or un-finished marbles like tiles, slabs and other items, into the zero rated list of Pakistan-China FTA to support the local industry. The letter said ”China is one of our biggest buyer of marble but but its purchases are only limited to raw material (Squared Marble, Granite and Onyx Blocks), which is not helping our Industry”. As there is no facility for value addition of marble goods in the country, Pakistan is losing substantial Foreign Exchange through marble export.
Talking to Pakistan Today, APMMPIEA Chairman Sanaullah Khan said that if the neighboring country agreed to take the semi processed marble as zero rated items, a large number of people could get job opportunities in the country. A single stone cutting machine needs almost 10 people to shape the stones in blocks and other kinds of sheets, he added. “We have identified that the duty and tax structure on imports of semi-processed and unfinished materials is considerably high then that on raw products in China, thus encouraging the import of only raw materials,” he said adding that if the duty structure was changed, the foreign importers could start demanding processed products from Pakistan. Semi-processed marble, granite & onyx products if placed on the FTA with China would not only help the local industry to expand activities but also generate comparatively better revenue while forcing the highly neglected industry towards value addition. He further said that the frequent visits of business delegation to china for exploring market potential for the huge deposits of marble and other material in Pakistan are needed. The association has invited Chinese exporters and buyers for establishing Joint Ventures for enhancing trade ties in the marble sector.
PAKISTAN’S MARBLE EXPORTS
It is worth mentioning here that despite various problems like power shortages and the worsening law and order situation in the country, Pakistan has achieved record high exports of marble with an increase of 72.34 per cent during June to July 2010-2011. According to final statistics of APMMPIEA for the financial year 2011, the country has achieved a record export of $60.620 million as compared to $35.178 million during the corresponding period of fiscal year 2010 with an increase of $25.442 million. Besides the huge export to China the country’s marble and granite is exported to almost 52 countries of world, which includes UAE, UK, India, China, Italy, USA and Malaysia. At the current market rate of $1,300 per cubic metric tonne, Pakistan could earn a huge amount if the issues related to the sector were resolved. The annual average exports of marble and granite mostly in the form of blocks and boulders has been around $22 million during 2005-06 to 2007-08. However, during 2008-09 some Square Blocks were also exported which caused an increase of $35 million. However, the current boost in export value was achieved due to the inclusion of many small exporters and industrialist of the sector that started exporting raw material to China and gulf countries adding to the over all export of marble.