ISLAMABAD   -   A parliamentary committee on Monday recommended the government to protect the domestic industry of the country after signing the second phase of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China.

Senate Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile Industry has noted that in cases like these where local industry is producing efficient products, it should be protected and export on similar items should be banned to promote indigenous people and employment. The meeting was given a briefing on the China Pakistan Free Trade Agreement Phase-II by the ministry of commerce and textile industry and the duty free access granted by China to Pakistan. The Committee was told that extensive sessions with local industry and associations were held and opinion from all stakeholders was taken. The FTA-II not only gives free access to a huge market but also has provisions for protecting our local industry. The Committee noted that in cases where local industry is producing efficient products, it should be protected and export on similar items should be banned to promote indigenous people and employment. Under the CPFTA-II, China has provided immediate liberalisation on 313 tariff lines which goes to $64 billion of China’s global imports and 83% of Pakistan’s global exports.

China will be immediately eliminating tariffs on 313 highest priority tariff lines which cover over $8.7 billion worth of Pakistan’s global exports and $64 billion worth of Chinese global imports whereas, under the complete offer from China, over $19 billion of Pakistan’s exports will be covered to $1.6 trillion of Chinese global imports. Under the 313 tariff lines currently our exports to China are less than 2% of their total imports, and with these concessions Pakistan should expect to gain market share by at least 10% which will come to around $6.5 billion per annum. The 313 tariff lines constitute textiles and garments, seafood, meat and other animal products, prepared foods, leather, chemicals, plastics, oil seeds, footwear as well as engineering goods including tractors, auto parts, home appliances, machineries etc.

Senate Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile Industry in its meeting has called for uniform criteria for all provinces in terms of election and representation in the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The Committee has also observed that the tenure of one year for the president of FPCCI is insufficient and almost all the time is spent in the next election campaign. The Committee members were of the view that the chambers of commerce have to be vibrant and have the primary task of promoting business and trade. The FPCCI was asked to come up with its proposal on the same.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi here at the Parliament House on Monday and was attended among others by Leader of the House Senator Shibli Faraz, Senators Nauman Wazir Khattak, Mian Ateeq Shaikh, Dilawar Khan, Ghous Muhammad Niazi, Ahmed Khan, Secretary Commerce Ahmed Sukhera, President FPCCI, Executive Director SLIC, acting CEO NICL and officials from the ministry and bodies.

The Committee was given a detailed briefing on the role and functions of FPCCI. The need to have a data and policy analysis wing and a formal mechanism to share recommendations among FBR and FPCCI and the commerce industry was emphasized. The members asked the FPCCI about the frequency of sharing recommendations and proposals and the percentage of their acceptance. Members agreed that before entering into any agreement thorough engagements and sessions should be held with chambers, associations and all stakeholders to get concrete proposals before finalising the agreement.