Next round of Pakistan-China negotiations for free trade agreement (FTA) phase II are scheduled to take place in Beijing on Wednesday.
The government is preparing for the FTA dialogue with an aim to explore huge market of China ,” said an official of the ministry of commerce. China had recently offered to re-initiate the stalled talks on free trade agreement-II, which is likely to resolve the pending issues.
He further said that government wants to protect the local industry, which is currently suffering due to FTA-I. Pakistan is facing $10 billion trade deficit with China , as imports from China are around $12 billion, whereas Pakistan’s exports are only $2 billion. “The ministry of commerce is hopeful that the upcoming talks can shape up the trade deal-II in favour of Pakistan,” he added.
Both the sides had so far failed to strike an agreement over the second phase of duty reduction under the FTA despite a lapse of three years.
As per the original plan, the second phase was supposed to be implemented from Jan 1, 2014. Both countries started negotiations for the second phase in 2011. However, both the sides successfully concluded the 8th round wherein a breakthrough was achieved in the shape of China’s assurances to favorably address Pakistan’s concerns in phase II.
Pakistan side was able to convince Chinese side to revise the bilateral safeguard chapter of FTA , which would be helpful in protecting the local industry against import surge from China .
The government is optimistic that upcoming 9th round of Pak-China FTA-II would be meaningful.
“The preparatory work for the next round is on track and the two sides are frequently consulting each other to reach a mutually beneficial early conclusion. In order to firm up Pakistan’s position, the Ministry of Commerce has held wide-ranged consultations with public and private sector stakeholders, including sectoral associations, chambers and relevant ministries/government departments and in turn the negotiations with Chinese are moving ahead as planned,” said an official handout released by the ministry of commerce.—INP