ISLAMABAD

China and Pakistan have decided that the electronic data sharing systems would be put in place on both sides before the end of this year which would help to deal with under-invoicing and mis-declaration.

Both the countries made agreement during fifth meeting of second phase negotiations of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA) which was held in Islamabad on 3rd-5th August 2015. Yao Wenling, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Commerce of China and Mrs Robina Athar, Additional Secretary Ministry of Commerce of Pakistan led the respective delegations.Both sides reviewed and expressed satisfaction over the progress made by the Working Group of Customs Officials’ dealing with Electronic Data Interchange related issues. Matters regarding Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary and Technical Barriers to Trade were also discussed. Both sides agreed that SPS regulatory/ monitoring authorities of both countries would work more closely. This close cooperation between them would effectively help export of rice, mango, rape-seed, canola and cherries to China in the near future.

The two sides continued discussion on Tariff Reduction Modality (TRM) for the second phase of CPFTA. Pakistan reiterated its stance that the second phase of CPFTA should be based on the principle of less than equal reciprocity in favour of Pakistan which entails that China would give tariff concessions to Pakistan which it has given to its other FTA trading partners while Pakistan may be allowed an adequate time period for reasonable reduction of tariffs keeping in view the prevalent conditions of Pakistani domestic industry.

With regard to enhancing trade in services under the CPFTA, Chinese side shared a preliminary list of sectors and sub-sectors for evaluation of Pakistani side. China wants enhanced cooperation in the services sectors which include architectural services, engineering, medical and dental services, advertising, courier services, tourism and travel, recreational, cultural and sporting services. This proposed liberalisation in different services sectors would eventually allow a robust and dynamic growth in trade in services between the two countries.

Earlier, in the fourth round of talks, the two countries made a big headway in the banking sector and agreed to ease the conditions for opening bank branches in each other’s territory. For setting up a branch, the asset requirement will be reduced to $15 billion from $20 billion for all Pakistani banks at the end of the year prior to the submission of an application.