Traders in Gilgit bear brunt of trade policy with China

Traders in Gilgit bear brunt of trade policy with China
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Gilgit [Pakistan-occupied Kashmir]: The traders in Gilgit-Baltistan are immensely troubled with Chinese policies that debar them from doing business on equal grounds.

Ever since the border trade agreement was signed between China and Pakistan in 1985, the markets of Gilgit-Baltistan are flooded with Chinese products.

Many traders complain that they are repatriated from the China border under the suspicion that their products could contain vulnerable goods.

Mubshir Hassan, a trader from Gilgit-Baltistan said, “Whenever we take our item for China, they do not let us pass (the China border check post), they contrive issues, like alleging the presence of some medical (chemical weapon or disease) or bring up some other issues with our products and send us back. Whichever items come from there, every kid of Pakistan and Gilgit Baltistan knows about it them.”

He added, “When Chinese come here, the Pakistan government facilitates them, they can take houses on rent or buy them but we are not treated alike in China.”

The Government of Pakistan offers best facilities to Chinese traders who come to Gilgit-Baltistan for one-sided business.

But for traders from Gilgit-Baltistan, it is no less than a nightmare. Budging under huge loans taken from banks in Pakistan, the traders are dismayed with China’s embargo on their products.

Hidayat Ali, another businessman from Gilgit-Baltistan said, “According to border trade agreement (China- Pakistan) signed in 1985, some items should be sent there and some items should be imported here. But what is actually happening is, they have imposed a ban on our products. Our exports are banned. The traders of Gilgit-Baltistan are running pillar to post (to export their products) and we have taken loans from various banks, we are not able to pay it back.”

The highways, built under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, serve just the interest of China, plying a chain of trucks to Gilgit-Baltistan.

Touted as a ‘game changer’, the multi-billion dollar CPEC project has given a boost to Chinese market, leaving traders in Gilgit-Baltistan on edge.

“I have already told traders that Awami Action Committee will support them and when we will take on streets we will have only one option that we will give a clear message to Government of China and Government of Pakistan that trade, friendship and business should take place at equal level. The (number) of products imported here should be the same exported from here”, said Sultan Raes, President of Awami Action Committee

Awami Action Committee and traders of Gilgit-Baltistan have issued an ultimatum to Pakistan and China governments, demanding an early resolution to the monopolistic trade between the two countries.(ANI)