LAHORE: Shah Faisal Afridi is the chief executive officer of Haier Ruba Group. His group launched Euro II-compliant tractors and a textile mill. The News talks to him about business relationship with China.
Q. Why have you been China-centric in your business dealings?
A. Look at our success, which is second to none in this country. China is the second largest economy in the world. Only a country with huge technological advantage can attain this status. The machinery and equipment offered by China are of global quality, while the prices are much lower than the similar machines supplied by developed economies. I am in fact surprised as to why other businessmen have not emulated us and ignored China to upgrade their technology. Look at the Chinese cement plant operated by Lucky Cement that has the same capacity and efficiency as the one operated by DG Khan Cement in central Punjab. The capital cost is half but efficiency and profits are the same.
Our textile machinery is 100 percent Chinese made and one of the most profitable spinning mills in the country. We make our home appliances from Chinese technology and machines and have ventured into exports. The tractors that Pakistan currently produces apply technologies of 1980’s. This is the reason that major Pakistani tractor brand is cheaper. We are producing tractors that are environment-friendly Euro II machines that are much efficient in fuel consumption as well. We are marketing these tractors at five percent less prices than the existing Pakistani brands with outdated technology.
Chinese have facilitated us in providing best technology to the Pakistani farmers at cheaper rates.
Q. How can Pakistan increase its exports to China?
A. We are already making inroads into Chinese yarn and fabric market. The Chinese are gradually opting out of basic textiles. They will relocate their industries in Pakistan. They have signed many agreements in this regard with the Punjab government. We are also at the final stage of our negotiation with low cost garment producers of China. We will establish a garment city with their collaboration. They would relocate some of their garment factories in Pakistan. Garment manufacturing would reduce poverty in Pakistan and increase the ratio of working women in the society.
We can export skilled human resource into China where wages are very high. They need skilled workers at reasonable salary. In the developed Chinese regions like Shanghai, the minimum wage has crossed $1,000 per month. Most of the Pakistani workers in the Gulf States earn an average of $500 per month. We can negotiate with the Chinese to hire them at $600-750 per month. We are starting Chinese language classes very soon.
By the time, we finalise a deal, we have an adequate number of workers with an understanding of elementary Chinese. We are a small company; this issue should be taken up by the government of Pakistan as I see a huge demand for Pakistani workers in the Chinese provinces bordering Pakistan. The Chinese have earmarked $500 billion to uplift Xinjiang region near the Pakistani border. All affluent Chinese regions have also been asked to contribute a certain percentage of their revenue towards the development of this region.
Q. What interest do the Chinese have in engaging Pakistani workers?
A. Chinese are working at full speed to develop Gwadar port and build a top class infrastructure from this port to Kashgar.
Of the total $2.1 trillion Chinese trade, at least $500 billion will be going to be routed through this route. Moreover, China’s trade with India has crossed $100 billion and by 2020 it is expected to touch $500 billion.
The Indo-China trade would be more viable through Wagah border and onwards to Kashgar. The Chinese would then request Pakistan to allow Indian goods meant for Afghanistan and Central Asian states through this route. This will ease tension between Pakistan and India, while China will have some influence over both the countries to ensure peace.
Q. Since you are from the federally-administered tribal areas, how are you helping your people in combating terrorism and poverty elimination?
A. We make recruitment purely on merit and if someone from the FATA is up to the standard, he is employed. We are establishing schools and hospitals in our area. The Haier-Afridi (Shahid Afridi) Foundation has already established a state of the art hospital at Kohat and few more would be established within two years in the heart of FATA. We are providing free books, uniform and school bags to FATA children that has created renewed interest in education in the area.
Source: The NEWS