Business Recorder (Pakistan)
Chinese proposal for FTA items’ classification rejected
ISLAMABAD (May 19 2006): Pakistan has rejected a Chinese demand that 90 percent items covered under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) should be put on positive list and remaining 10 percent in negative mode.
"We have turned down Chinese proposal to put 90 percent items in the positive list and only 10 percent in the negative list," said an official, who was a member of the Pakistani negotiating team.
The official said that both sides have identified tariff lines for further consideration, after consultations with their respective governments and private sector stakeholders. Discussions on the FTA would continue in September 2006, as the next round of talks will be held in Beijing.
"The commerce ministry will initiate the consultation process with the stakeholders after the announcement of the budget in June, and consequently, its approval with changes in tariff from the parliament," says an official statement issued by the ministry.
The Early Harvest Programme (EHP) was implemented by both countries from January whereas the negotiators discussed the draft text of various chapters of the FTA in the third round.
The talks were held in an atmosphere of complete understanding and major progress was achieved in cleaning the draft text and consensus was achieved on the substantive part of the text, the statement said, adding that the coverage of items for elimination of duty bilaterally was also discussed in the talks. The Chinese side was led by Zhu Hong, deputy director general, Mofcom, China, while Commerce Joint Secretary Shahid Bashir headed the Pakistani team.
It is pertinent to mention that first two rounds of these negotiations were held prior to January 2006, and were mostly related to put in place the EHP, which was negotiated during 2005.