ISLAMABAD - The 8th round of Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would be held in Beijing on September 14 and 15, 2017.

Both the sides had so far failed to strike an agreement over the second phase of duty reduction under the FTA despite a lapse of more than two-and-a-half years. Pakistan and China had agreed to revise the FTA by the end of December 2015. However, Beijing is unwilling to accept Islamabad’s demand to revive preferential treatment for exportable products under the second phase of the FTA. Both the countries had held seven meetings but failed to develop an understanding on preferential concessions to each other.

China is demanding to reduce duty to zero percent on 90 percent tradable products under the proposed revised FTA, which is not acceptable for Pakistan. “The negotiating team on FTAs must work vigorously to conclude the agreements in best interest of Pakistan,” said Federal Minister for Commerce Pervaiz Malik while chairing a briefing on Pakistan-Thailand and Pakistan-China FTAs. The meeting was informed that the 8th Round of Pakistan-China FTA to be held in Beijing on September 14 and 15, 2017. Taimur Tajammal, Joint Secretary (FT-1) and also the chief negotiator on the FTA, briefed the minister on the state of negotiations with China and Thailand.

The minister expressed satisfaction over the progress of FTA negotiations and the preparation of the negotiating team and directed them to work vigorously to conclude the agreements in best interest of Pakistan and at the same time addressing the concerns of the local industry.

Speaking to the negotiating team, the minister was of the view that while negotiating FTA with Thailand, Pakistan is also looking to access a huge untapped market of the whole East Asian Region. From the same region, Pakistan has already concluded successful FTAs with Malaysia and Indonesia, the minister said.

Earlier, the Pakistan's Ambassador to Belgium Naghmana Hashmi and Pakistan's Economic Minister in Brussels, Omer Hameed called on the commerce minister and briefed him about the situation of bilateral trade between Pakistan and Brussels and appraised the minister on the areas of trade and investment between the two countries. Malik directed them to work relentlessly for boosting exports of Pakistan to Brussels and to look for opportunities to increase trade, investment and cooperation between the two countries.

Later, the minister also visited the National Tariff Commission (NTC) Office in Islamabad where he was given briefing by NTC Chairman Qasim Niaz about the structure, working, achievements and problems faced by the NTC. Malik expressed satisfaction over the performance of the NTC and assured them of full support of the ministry in resolving the issues faced by them.