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Pakistan to get maximum benefit from China-Pak FTA phase-II: Khurram.

ISLAMABAD -- Minister for Commerce Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan on Tuesday said that the second phase of ChinaPakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA) would help in reducing the balance of trade with China.

Addressing a press conference here, he said that the meeting between the both sides for the agreement the second phase of CPFTA were in process and next meeting in this regard would be held in March this year.

Khurram Dastgir said the second phase would be independent from the first one as it was not in favour of Pakistan.

He said in the first phase of FTA which was signed in 2006 between the two countries, the tariff reduction provided by China to Pakistan was insufficient as Pakistan could not get maximum benefit.

"Now in the second phase the both sides have proposed to increase tariff concessions from existing 35 percent to 90 percent", said Robina Ather, Additional Secretary Ministry of Commerce who is currently leading the Pakistani side for bilateral dialogues with China.

She however said the tariff reduction would be in favour of Pakistan as China was proposing 70 percent immediate tariff reduction while the remaining would be increased gradually by 10 percent every five years whereas Pakistan was proposing 50 percent immediate tariff reduction while the remaining would be increased by 10 percent every 10 years.

She said "our period would be longer while tariff reduction would be lesser as compared to that of China".

Khurram Dastgir Khan said the two sides were agreed on three principles first of which was that the second phase would be independent from the first one and it would have nothing to do with the previous one.

Moreover, he said the two sides have also agreed that tariff reduction would not be on reciprocal basis and it would be in favour of Pakistan. He said the two sides also agreed that if there is surge in imports of any product from either side, both countries would have right to put safeguard measures and quotas on that particular product.

He said the both sides also agreed on softening up requirements for establishing branches of Banks in each other's countries. He said as per agreement, for establishing bank branches, asset requirement would be reduced to US $ 15 billion from US $ 20 billion, for all Pakistani Banks, at the end of the year prior to the submission of the application.

He said Working Groups on Customs also shared some information on modalities of establishing customs Electronic Data Exchange related to the implementation of CPFTA. Both sides agreed that this Working Group would have first facetoface meeting in January, 2015 in Beijing, he added.

To a question he said it was noticed that the trade figures quoted by both sides differed greatly.

He said the Pakistani data shows that currently Pakistan exports to China were US $2.5 billion while the import from China were $7.5 billion while according to Chinese documents the exports to Pakistan were around $14 billion while the imports from Pakistan to China were around $10 billion.

He said both sides agreed that a study may be conducted respectively to find out the reasons for this discrepancy and outcome of the study would be shared by end o January, 2015.

In evaluating the first phase of CPFTA, both sides raised concerns regarding insufficient utilization of concessions, influence to local industry as a result of concessions and misuse of certificate of origin which could be addressed in the second phase.

The minister said it was also agreed to establish a working group on Trade in Services and Investment, which will have its meeting with next CPFTA meeting, scheduled to be held at the end of March, 2015.
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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jan 14, 2015
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