Beijing and Islamabad have agreed to enter into China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement-II (CPFTA-II), which will be finalised during the four-day visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China. In a joint media briefing at the Board of Investment along with BoI Chairman Haroon Sharif, Advisor for Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production, and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood said that Prime Minister Imran Khan would leave for China on April 25 to participate in the 2nd Belt and Road Forum (BRF).
He said that both sides have firmed up details of CPFTA-II, which Prime Minister Imran Khan is going to sign during his upcoming visit to China from April 25-28. “The Chinese side will get the agreement rectified from its concerned authority and it may take one to three months,” he said.
The advisor maintained that the government has put safeguards for local industries in the CPFTA-II which were denied in CPFTA-I. Pakistan now has a level playing field with member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in exports to China, which has waived duty on more Pakistani products, he said.
He further said the government is all set to implement electronic origin data exchange under the agreement which will enable real time recording of trade between the two countries and help curb underinvoicing and ill-practicing.
China has agreed, in principle, to extend duty-free access on additional 313 tariff lines under the proposed CPFTA-II. “Earlier, Chinese foreign minister agreed to Pakistan”s proposal of 313 tariff lines during his visit to Pakistan on September 18, 2018 but the Chinese side refused to give this facility on November 2018,” he said, adding that it is due to Pakistan”s consistent efforts that China agreed to this.
He said that both countries have agreed on liberalisation of 75 percent tariff lines and 90 percent trade value. “We are expecting $500 million exports will be increased in one-and-a-half-year as a result of the agreement,” he said.
More than 140 businessmen will be part of Prime Minister”s entourage to China but all of them will bear all travelling and boarding expenditures themselves. “The businessmen will not get any discount on travelling and lodging to China unlike the past,” he added.
He stressed that now it is up to the business community to take advantage of the China duty relief and tap the export potential. He said under the agreement, apart from textile sector, other sectors of economy like auto parts, furniture, chemical, engineering goods, etc, would have access to Chinese market duty-free.
He said the theme of the second BRF is “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future.” The main purpose is to promote the high-quality development of Belt and Road cooperation, which is the common aspiration of countries participating in the initiative, he added.
“We will also discuss with Chinese side the setting up of the Eastern Route on the CPEC along with North-South route,” he said.
Haroon Sharif claimed that 22 Chinese companies have either incorporated or are incorporating in Pakistan and relocation of Chinese industry to special economic zones (SEZs) is also on the cards.
He further said that a meeting of Board of Approval is likely in the next 21 days to take important decisions related to investment.
Source: Business Recorder