On 25 June 2021, the CAREC Institute and China City Development Alliance hosted a webinar titled “Optimizing Trade and e-Commerce to Bridge the Needs in the CAREC Region.”
The webinar provided an opportunity for the analysts and enterprise practitioners to interact and exchange information for the mutual benefit. Panelists looked into trade numbers, export and industry structures, the level of technology adoption, various cooperation frameworks, trade diversification options in resource-endowed economies, and explored new opportunities for CAREC countries to embrace e-commerce and share collaboration ideas. Topics included tourism cooperation, use of live stream media, culture promotion, import and export options, industry investment and revitalization opportunities, vocational training in e-commerce, and many more.
Dr. Ghulam Samad of the CAREC Institute stressed importance of technology penetration in a country’s industries, providing an example of Pakistan where low-technology exports in the total share of exports take up nearly 87% and high-technology exports occupy only 0.6% while these numbers stand at 17.4% and 28% respectively for the world average. He demonstrated that low-technology and resource-based exports show a steady decline since the 1990s worldwide. Dr. Samad further reviewed manufacturing value addition index based on the UNIDO data, bilateral trade complementarity index, export similarity index, etc. and provided concluding remarks. A regional Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Central Asian economies may not bring perceived benefits (building a competitive environment, developing regional integration, increasing trade volume) to Pakistan’s economy, he said. Opportunities exist in transit, energy cooperation, access to northern markets for Pakistan, and access to the Pakistan’s deep-sea ports for landlocked economies.
Mr. Rovshan Mahmudov of the CAREC Institute provided an overview of export by product in five Central Asian countries and their top 10 importers. The charts demonstrated the dominance of mineral fuels and extractive industries in export product categories. Further, the analysis of comparative advantages in international trade country by country was offered. He recommended creation of Chinese and Central Asian holding companies in different industries to produce final goods (such as textile, consumer electronics, light industry); acceleration of regional integration in Central Asia through digital trade development, fintech, telemedicine, and investment in digital infrastructure; also, integration of the transport and energy systems of the PRC and Central Asia.
Mr. Li Xiang, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Pairi Holding Group Co., and Alibaba Business School graduate elaborated that the PRC’s cross-border e-commerce accounts for 17% of the country’s foreign trade imports and exports where B2B model occupies 90%. He further offered e-commerce market and customer analysis and recommended the CAREC members to launch the cross-border e-commerce talent training vocational program which is operating successfully in the PRC.
Ms. Zhao Lingmin, senior media professional, former Editor-in-Chief of South Reviews, founder of LMinsight highlighted the importance of tourism providing pre-pandemic numbers when the PRC’s outbound tourism reached 155 million visitors annually, and their overseas spending amounted to $134 billion. She proposed the Ancient Silk Road cultural re-acquaintance as a mutually beneficial arrangement if vaccination gains speed, visas are simplified, and active destination promotion takes place through live streaming and other popular media among the Chinese travelers. Ms. Zhao offered support of her populous online platforms. Mr. Wang Qin, President of Guangying Zhongjin Culture & Media Co., echoed Ms. Zhao and offered the webinar audience the documentary film production service and image promotion among the Chinese customers.