Daily Times, Pakistan
FTAs with Sri Lanka and China: Pakistan failed to take advantage of FTAs: KCCI chief
21 March 2007
KARACHI: Pakistan has not been able to take the desired advantage from the two Free Trade Agreements with Sri Lanka and China.
Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Majyd Aziz stated this while presiding over the inaugural meeting of the KCCI Special Committee on Regional Economic Affairs.
On the contrary, both these countries have substantially increased their exports to Pakistan. The prime reason is that the business community of Pakistan does not have comprehensive knowledge or information about these FTAs.
The KCCI chief said that after the formal signing of the Pak-Sri Lankan FTA, Sri Lanka increased its exports by $27 million while Pakistan’s exports to Colombo surged by a measly less than $3 million. He said that the chamber is organizing an intensive Seminar in Karachi in April on “Understanding FTA” in collaboration with the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo, the Sindh Government, and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.
It is planned to highlight SAFTA, Pak-Sri Lanka FTA, Pak-China FTA, and the under negotiation FTAs with Malaysia and Bangladesh. He talked about the shipping protocol signed with India, and proposed to the government that it should promote and create intra-regional investment alongwith trade.
KCCI ex-president Khalid Firoz also agreed that there is an immediate need for raising awareness of FTAs among the business community except that they are concerned about reduction in duty.
He called upon the government not to ignore the stakeholders and lamented the casualness of the policy makers by not inviting KCCI and other businessmen when negotiations are held in foreign seas. He said that the non-understanding of FTA procedures by the government officials have resulted in low acceptance of FTAs while the Indian businessmen are given proper and deserving protocol by their governments.
Special Committee on Regional Economic Affairs Chairman Danish Saeed in his remarks stated that Pakistan could also galvanize its moribund trade through profound understanding and concentrated preparation of the subject of FTAs and cited the example of India as taking maximum advantage of the FTA agreements.
He said that Indo-China bilateral trade has crossed the $25 billion figure in one year and that both China and India have taken cognizance of the competitive domestic markets in each other’s country. He said that SAARC countries and China constitute 20% of the global population and thus ample opportunities of trade are available.