ISLAMABAD -  In a major development, the Chinese government has agreed to address the major concerns of Pakistan regarding preference erosion for Pakistani exports and meaningful market access during the 2nd phase of Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

The 8th meeting of 2nd phase negotiations of Pakistan-China FTA held in Beijing on September14-15, 2017 concluded with breakthrough in the negotiation which was at an impasse over the last few rounds. The meeting was co-chaired by Commerce Secretary Younus Dagha and China’s Vice Minister for Commerce Wang Shouwen.

In the last seven rounds, Pakistan had been pleading the case of restoration of its preference under the FTA which had been eroded due to subsequent FTAs of China . Dagha pointed out that the preference on 79 percent of Pakistan’s exports to China had been eroded. Pakistan has also been concerned over not having been able to get meaningful market access during the first phase of the FTA . Pakistan had been raising this issue with the Chinese side time and again during the previous rounds without any consensus to address these concerns . It was in this back drop, the commerce secretary decided to himself lead the negotiations with the Chinese vice minister as his counterpart.

After two days of intense negotiations, Chinese side agreed to address the major concerns of Pakistan side regarding preference erosion for Pakistani exports and meaningful market access during the 2nd phase. In this regard Pakistan shared a list around 70 high priority items of its export interest for immediate market access, which the Chinese side agreed to consider favourably. These tariff lines constitute more than 80 percent of Pakistan’s current exports to China . The meeting ended with exchange of pleasantries and a resolve to continue working together to make Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement a win-win proposition for both the countries.

It is worth mentioning here that second phase of the FTA was supposed to be implemented from January 1, 2014. Both the countries started negotiations for the second phase in 2011. The FTA covers more than 7,000 tariff lines at eight-digit tariff code under the Harmonised System (HS). Both sides have held seven rounds of negotiation on the second phase to break the deadlock. However, both the countries end the deadlock during the 8th rounds held in China .

 

IMRAN ALI KUNDI