Pakistan, China hold talks to review Free Trade Agreement

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Pakistan and China talks to assess the performance of Pak-China Free Trade Agreement (PCFTA) and to propose necessary changes of mutual benefit for the two countries was held on Monday.

The PCFTA is in effect since 2006 and this is the third meeting of the second phase negotiations of the agreement in which Pakistan’s delegation was headed by Additional Secretary Ministry of Commerce Robina Ather and accompanied by officials from the federal board of revenue, ministry of industries, ministry of textile industry and ministry of food security and national research.

The 10-member Chinese delegation, which will hold three-day FTA-review, talks was headed by Yao Wenliang, Deputy Director General of Ministry of Commerce of China, says a statement issued by the ministry of commerce. Other participants of the Chinese delegation included officials from Chinese ministry of industry and information technology, finance, agriculture, customs and department of quality supervision.

In its assessment of the PCFTA, the ministry of commerce (MoC) expressed its concern over the insufficient utilization of the facilities provided under the PCFTA in which only few sectors had been able to reap the fruits of the favourable tariffs.

Pakistan emphasized the importance to broaden its export-base to China by encouraging exports from all the sectors which falls under FTA and sought to enhance facilities and concessions on high value-added products. Pakistan also expressed its concern over the dilution of margin of preference due to China’s FTAs with other countries especially the ASEAN countries.

The cost of exemption that the state exchequer has to bear due to tariff concessions under FTA also came under discussion. Pakistan also conveyed the concerns of the local industry which have to compete with the Chinese products despite the persistent energy crisis faced by the country.

Both the sides agreed that the concerns expressed by the two countries will be taken into consideration on mutual benefit basis by readjustment and review of the FTA through provisions of the FTA.

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