Hi Pakistan, 27 February 2005
Pakistan, China to sign Trade Agreement in April
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China want finalisation of an early harvest programme to finally sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries.
Two sides are actively pursuing various options, including a list of items to be traded zero-rated duty under the Early Harvest Programme, promotion of bilateral trade in border areas, expanded investment cooperation and facilitating export of Pakistani rice, fruits and vegetables to China.
Pakistan hopes it would succeed in expanding its economic ties with China further when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visits Islamabad in April, 2005. Signing of the FTA and attracting Chinese investment in major infrastructure projects, like Thar Coal, expansion of Gwadar port could be part of the agenda.
Two sides have very close cooperation in the field of defence, including an extensive defence production programme. Yi Xiaozhun, Assistant Commerce Minister of China, discussed ways to expand the trade with Pakistani Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan here on Friday. Leading a 16-member delegation, Chinese team discussed deepening and broadening of existing Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), the Early Harvest Programme and the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
"The objective of the visiting Chinese delegation is to participate in the first meeting of Pak-China Joint Study Group (JSG) on the FTA between the two countries. On the agenda is also the Early Harvest Programme, which will cover items at zero tariffs that are mutually agreed under the existing PTA.
Other items in the existing and extended PTA will also be added to the Early Harvest Package," an official statement of the Ministry of Commerce said. The Early Harvest Programme would serve as foundation stone towards conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement. China also seeks Pakistan’s support on accession to the WTO.
Pakistan also sought Chinese investment in agriculture, food processing, livestock, fisheries, dairy farming, housing, IT, telecom, construction & engineering and packaging industries, and investment in export-oriented industries especially in manufacturing of fabrics and garments.
China is also expected to sign a formal protocol in April this year, paving the way for export of Pakistani rice to China. The export of Pakistani rice to China is likely to be a breakthrough in trading food items between the two countries. "The Pakistani long-grain rice can find a big market in China, since its quality is much better than the rice that is currently being imported from Thailand," an official document indicated.