Pak-China sign agreement to enforce EHP form January next
BEIJING, Dec 09 2005: Pakistan and China here Friday signed an agreement to enforce Early Harvest Programme (EHP) reducing tariff on a number of industrial and agriculture products from January 1, 2006.
It was inked by Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan and his Chinese counterpart Bo Xilai at a ceremony held at a local hotel.
Later, the two ministers told reporters at a joint news conference that it was the historical day, when the two sides were laying a strong foundation, bringing their trade in conformity with the excellent diplomatic ties.
The agreement followed by bilateral talks held between the two ministers and conclusion of second round of negotiation on Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
The Chinese Minister said Pakistan is the first country, with which China will have free trade arrangement under the EHP, a part of FTA. He said the leadership of the two countries attached great importance to their bilateral ties and the EHP is the manifestation of their continuous efforts, developing comprehensive partnership in all areas of mutual interest.
Under the agreement, the two sides declared completion of all processes to initiate the EHP from January one. The EHP was concluded following the talks held in Islamabad April this year between Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
Under the EHP the two countries will receive tariff reduction all-together on about 3000 items, in three phases till January, 2008. In the first phase, the Chinese side will bring the excise duty to zero rate on 769 mutually agreed products that include vegetables, fruits, marble material and cotton fabric.
Similarly, the Pakistani side will reduce the tariff to zero on 486 items, which
include textile machinery and chemicals. The EHP consists of two lists of items
(Common List and Separate List) for bringing customs duty to zero on certain
items, even prior to conclusion of the FTA.It will also cover the items, on
which the two countries are already giving tariff concession under Preferential
Tariff Agreement (PTA).
In average, there will be 27 percent concession on duties from the Chinese side in the first phase, while it will be 22 percent duties’ reduction from the Pakistani side.
The two ministers during the talks also agreed to make join efforts to develop consensus on core issues to be addressed by the Sixth Ministerial Conference (MC6) of the WTO, scheduled to take place in Hong Kong from Dec 13.
The talks were attended by senior officials from both sides including Pakistan ambassador Salman Bashir and Shahid Bashir, leader of Pakistani negotiating team on FTA and commercial counsellor Shahid Mahmood.
Hamayun Akhtar is scheduled to leave for Hong Kong on Saturday to attend the WTO’s conference.