Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has welcomed the understanding reached between Pakistan and China during the third meeting of second phase negotiations on Pak-China FTA (Free Trade Agreement) to soften the requirements for establishing bank branches in each other’s country.

ICCI has termed understanding reached between Pakistan and China highly positive development that would help in boosting bilateral trade and yield fruitful results for both countries.  Muzammil Hussain Sabri, President ICCI, said that Pakistan and China possessed immense potential to improve bilateral trade, however, lack of banking facilities was a big stumbling block for Pakistani businessmen to promote trade with China as presently the LCs were routed through foreign banks.

He said the opening of Pakistani banks in China would greatly facilitate trade promotion with China as the financial transactions would be routed through Pakistani banks. This arrangement would not only benefit our banking reserves, it would also help in expansion of our economy and GDP growth.  He stressed that both countries should remove all impediments on urgent basis to establish bank branches on reciprocal basis.

Muhammad Shakeel Munir, Senior Vice President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry also appreciated the Pak-China move to re-negotiate tariff reduction on tradable goods under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). He said both countries had signed the FTA in 2006, but its concessions could not be better utilized as yet.

He said India-China bilateral trade has reached $ 70 billion during 2013, but Pakistan’s trade with China was still far below the available potential. He urged that Government of Pakistan should provide helping hand to its businessmen in taking full advantage of FTA for improving trade with China. He said though Pak-China bilateral trade has improved from $4.10 billion in 2006-07 to over $ 10 billion in 2014, however, the volume of trade was highly tilted in favor of China, which needed to be made balanced for both countries.

Muhammad Ashfaq Chatha, Vice President ICCI stressed that both countries should take measures to address issued related to technical barriers to trade (TBT). He said that Chinese government should also look into the strict conditions of its inspections and quarantine processes to remove the concerns of Pakistani exporters in order to facilitate them in promoting exports to China.