Daily Times, Lahore, 12 October 2005
FTA talks with Singapore in Nov
By Sajid Chaudhry
ISLAMABAD: The second round of talks between Pakistan and Singapore on the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will be held from Nov 28 to 30 at Islamabad, an official at the ministry of commerce told the Daily Times on Tuesday.
Singapore has already proposed to Pakistan the draft of the proposed FTA and the second round of negotiations between the two countries. Trade Experts from the two countries will focus on the said draft and will try to finalize the modalities of the proposed FTA for promotion of trade in desired areas.
The two countries had already signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, under which they were now negotiating the FTA to give a boost to their trade ties for enhanced economic cooperation, the official added.
Officials from Singapore and Pakistan had concluded on Aug 27 the initial first round of talks over a possible free trade agreement at Singapore. Singapore’s ministry of trade and industry said “fruitful discussions” took place during the three-day meeting. The next meeting was scheduled for November in Pakistan, the ministry said in a statement.
The city-state has made free trade pacts a cornerstone of its economic policy, and it has signed agreements with the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, among others. More than a dozen, including one with Pakistan’s rivals India, are being negotiated.
Pakistan had imported goods worth of Rs16.032 billion in July-May period of the 2004-05 fiscal and Rs 25.109 billion during July-May period of the 2003-04 fiscal. Pakistan’s exports to Singapore are negligible and the signing and operationalizination of the FTA between the two countries would help increase exports from Pakistan to Singapore.
The official explained that imports from Singapore would be of semi-finished goods or parts of consumers goods that would help the local industry to assemble the goods for the local market or for export. These items would be imported at cheaper rates. As a result of this finished goods would be able to compete in the local as well as international markets and the country would be in a position to increase its exports.
Pakistan would export raw materials and commodities to Singapore, and a new market for Pakistani exports would be tapped, the official added.
Singapore is an active member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and it could be helpful in expanding Pakistan’s trade with its neighbouring countries.