BEIJING   -     China has opened up its market for Pakistani goods, as there will be zero tariffs on more products and large cuts to duties on other products under the revised FTA, says a statement issued by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), reports China Economic Net.

The two countries will gradually liberalize 75 percent of their total tariff lines compared with 35 percent in the previous version and cut duties on certain goods such as leather, clothes and seafood from Pakistan, the ministry said. Upgrades and revisions were also made to sections dealing with market access, investment, customs and other areas, it noted

China and Pakistan have signed an upgraded FTA, as the two close neighbours seek to further strengthen their bilateral economic and trade ties and deepen cooperation under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The second phase of the China-Pakistan FTA, signed during Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing, also highlighted China’s continued efforts to open up its market and expand BRI cooperation into more areas, analysts said.

“This will no doubt help boost trade between China and Pakistan,” said Liu Ying, a research fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing, adding that Pakistan has huge potential in developing trade as it, with the CPEC, would be at the center of a massive flow of global commodities fueled by the BRI.

Trade between China and Pakistan reached $19.08 billion in 2018, with Pakistani exports to China increasing 18.7 percent year-on-year to $2.17 billion, Chinese official data showed. Trade in 2018 was 3.6 times that of 2006, before the original China-Pakistan FTA was signed. “This is a very significant move not just for the two countries but also for the BRI and global trade,” said Liu.

She pointed out that the FTA also offers a great example of how BRI countries should pursue free trade and high-quality growth and how China will continue to open up its market for foreign companies, two key themes of the just-concluded Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF).

The upgraded China-Pakistan FTA “reflects the new pattern of China’s active push for comprehensive opening and China’s attitude and willingness to resolutely support free trade and economic globalization,” an unidentified official with the MOFCOM said in a statement.