ISLAMABAD: Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce and Textile Abdul Razak Dawood said on Wednesday that China has accepted Pakistan’s demand of duty-free market access on 313 items and both sides would sign Phase-II of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on April 28, 2019.
He stated while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile which met with Naveed Qamar to investigate and scrutinise the export, import and WTO policy directions, challenges, initiatives, way forward, Vision 2019-2024, and assessment of future reciprocal FTA access trends in Pakistan.
Dawood said that Pakistan has rejected China’s demand of duty-free market access, which they demanded in return for allowing Pakistani products duty free access; however access on a few items would be given. He further said that China has agreed to allow market access on the pattern of ASEAN countries.
China will give Pakistan duty-free access on 313 items. These 313 items are among those in which China’s imports stand at $64 billion but Pakistan was not earlier allowed to export more than one billion dollars in these items, he added.
He further said if Pakistan gets 5 percent share in the $64 billion market of China after duty free market access and revised FTA, Pakistan exports could be increased by $3.2 billion per annum and if Islamabad succeeds in getting 10 percent market share, the exports could be increased by $6.4 billion.
China earlier did not agree to duty-free market access due to internal differences, as their commerce minister did not agree to give Pakistan market access but the Chinese prime minister and foreign minister agreed to give market access to Pakistan.
The advisor further informed the committee that many items’ list (in hundreds) for reciprocal duty free export/ import (trade) to Chain is on final terms. He added that much improvement is expected in near future not only in exports to China but also to other countries including Indonesia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Turkey.
The committee was further informed that Turkey is not ready to give any concession to Pakistani products, especially leather and textile. He further said that the US is also not ready to allow Pakistani products duty free access like it gives to Bangladesh and Vietnam and others due to geo-political and other reasons.
Federal Secretary Commerce Sardar Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera briefed the committee in detail on the exports of Pakistan and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The Ministry of Commerce and Textile Industry has projected a sluggish growth in exports owing to headwinds including slow economic growth, lack of fiscal space, contractionary monetary policy as well as geo-political uncertainty.
The secretary commerce said that Pakistan is making all-out efforts for making the FTA-II effective from July 1, but the Chinese side may take up to two months longer. The FTA-II will be signed on April 28 during the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China, but after that it would be passed from the Chinese Parliament, he added.