"Compared with Pakistani ceramics, the technology and machines of China are better. For example, the technology of gold tile only exists in China or Spain and nowhere in the world," said Muhammad Shahid, CEO of Foshan Urban Ceramics, who has an 18-year ceramic business in China. Since Pakistan has abundant labor force, raw materials and better international trade environment, Pak-China ceramic cooperation has a great potential.
China is a major producer of ceramic, which is famous for its long history and high cost performance. Liza Zhou, senior sales manager of a top Chinese ceramic brand, told us that the quality of their products is now close to that of Italian ceramic tiles, some can even surpass them. However, Chinese brands are facing some difficulties in the international market.
"At present, the whole industry is facing great pressure in export. There are challenges such as trade barriers. There are competitions with other Chinese enterprises as well as fast emerging producers, such as India and Türkiye," said Alfred Huang, assistant to General Manager of Guangdong MarcoPolo Ceramics, one of the largest ceramic tile brands in China.
Pakistan's ceramic industry is also facing challenges such as shortage of technology, taxation and rising cost of energy. "If we have better machinery here, there will be better results. If we have automatic production lines, we can achieve a higher production efficiency,"said Mazhar Iqbal, Production Manager at Deen China Ware, Gujranwala.
Pak-China ceramic cooperation can be a solution to above problems both countries have encountered. Some collaborations in this sector have already begun and are operating in good shape. "Chinese companies with millions of dollars of investments had set up their factories in Allama Iqbal Industrial Zone (Special Economic Zone Faisalabad set up under CPEC), creating thousands of jobs and boosting ceramics business," said Mian Kashif Ashfaq, a pioneer in establishing Allama Iqbal Industrial City.
During the last two years, nine ceramics units have been established with the assistance of Chinese firms in Faisalabad's SEZ. Locally-produced ceramics tiles were cost-effective and of good quality.