ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Monday hoped to sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA) phase II with China in next month (April) during the visit of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to China that would increase the bilateral trade.

Secretary Commerce Mohammad Younus Dagha Monday expressed satisfaction over the progress on the FTA phase II.

"I hoped that both sides can meet at an early date for the 10th rounds to finalize the remaining issues so that a formal announcement can be made during the prime minister's visit to China in April, 2018," the secretary said in a meeting with China's Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing.

He briefed the ambassador on the status of negotiations of second phase of FTA. He thanked the Chinese government on accommodating the concerns of Pakistan's local industry and agreeing to provide a competitive edge to Pakistanis exports in Chinese market.

The Chinese ambassador reaffirmed Chine's commitment to address any apprehensions of Pakistan's local industry.

He also agreed on the need to finalise the negotiations before PM Abbasi's visit to China.

He assured to coordinate early dates for the next round with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

Sources in the commerce ministry informed The Nation that government is already completing its homework before next round on FTA.

The ministry and textile sector has recently called a meeting of all key chambers and associations to finalize sensitive list of items to be placed before Chinese officials during 10th round of FTA-II, the sources said.

They said that government wanted to take viewpoint of business community on revised trade agreement with China before its finalization.

In February this year, China had agreed to revise whole Free Trade Agreement (FTA) under which Beijing will provide tariff concessions for increasing exports of Pakistan.

Pakistan had suggested incorporating clauses for safeguarding the industries and the economy from any undue pressure on the balance of payments position. Dagha had presented the demands of Pakistani exporters and industries for accommodating in the final draft of the FTA.

The demands included those from exporters to provide tariff concessions equivalent to Asean countries.

Chinese side also agreed on Electronic Data Exchange which would help reducing the chances of under-invoicing, another major concern of Pakistani industry.

It may be mentioned that these negotiations had started in 2012 to finalise the revised version of the FTA.

Under the first phase of FTA, Pakistan's trade balance with China had worsened, and it had registered $12 billion mark in last financial year 2016-17.

Pakistan's major exports to China are, cotton yarn, chemical material, crude vegetable material, rice, raw hides and skins, fish and fish preparations.

On the other hand, the major imports of Pakistan from China are machinery and its spare parts, manufactured fertilizer ,chemical elements, yarn and thread of synthetic fibre, iron and steel, chemical materials and products, vegetable and synthetic textile fibre, road vehicles and their parts, non-ferrous metals, tyres and tubes of rubber etc.