RAWALPINDI   -   Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) President Malik Shahid Saleem has termed the 2nd stage of FTA with China a positive development and desired that it will improve Pakistan’s trade balance with China. The conclusion of the second phase of China-Pakistan FTA during recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan would give further boost to trade and economic relations between the two countries, he added.

However, RCCI President cautioned that desired results can only be met once we have better competitiveness and quality standards at local market. We need concrete steps with continuity of policies to meet our export targets. Pakistan has given GSP plus status but could not materialize it with its true potential, he further added. He said the new list is not limited to textile specific products but also includes textile goods, leather, engineering, chemicals, furniture, auto parts, plastic, rubber, paper board, ceramic, glass, surgical instruments, footwear, wood, articles of stones, sea food, meat, tractors, home appliances etc.

Malik Shahid Saleem said that the real challenge is on both ends — import and export, and the biggest problem is how to reduce imports.

The trade deficit between Pakistan and China was around $15 billion and the government must take immediate steps to bring down imports from China and increase its export tariff lines.  He said Pak-China FTA has mostly benefited China as trade balance has always been in favour of China, however, he stressed that Pakistani exporters should fully capitalise on huge Chinese export market to achieve better results for the economy. RCCI chief also stressed that Pakistani manufacturers should further improve quality of their products to improve exports with China.

CPEC being the flagship project of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) offered us a great opening here and the government should expedite the process of developing SEZs under CPEC so that private sector could make investments and setup joint ventures in these SEZs that would promote industrialisation, boost exports and create plenty of new jobs in the country, he added.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) Chief Executive Mian Kashif Ashfaq Tuesday greeted the Prime Minister Imran Khan for 4-day successful state visit to China promising revival of economic activities to help strengthening national economy. Presiding over a meeting of board of directors here Tuesday, he said that the top leadership of China has widely acknowledged the dynamic and sagacious leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his good governance,” says a press release issued here today.