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Pakistan, China to hold 8th round of FTA talks next week

Pakistan and China will hold the eighth round of their Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks in Beijing next week, with both sides having failed to strike an agreement over the second phase of duty reductions.

The talks will be held on September 14 and 15, The Nation reported.

Talks on the second phase of duty reduction under the FTA have been on for more than two-and-a-half years.

Pakistan and China had agreed to revise the FTA by the end of December 2015.

However, Beijing is unwilling to accept Islamabad’s demand to revive preferential treatment for exportable products under the second phase of the FTA. Both the countries had held seven meetings but failed to develop an understanding on preferential concessions to each other.

China is demanding to reduce duty to zero per cent on 90 per cent tradable products under the proposed revised FTA, which is not acceptable for Pakistan. “The negotiating team on FTAs must work vigorously to conclude the agreements in best interest of Pakistan,” said Federal Minister for Commerce Pervaiz Malik while chairing a briefing on Pakistan-Thailand and Pakistan-China FTAs. Taimur Tajammal, Joint Secretary (FT-1) and also the chief negotiator on the FTA, briefed the minister on the state of negotiations with China and Thailand.

The minister expressed satisfaction over the progress of FTA negotiations and the preparation of the negotiating team and directed them to work vigorously to conclude the agreements in best interest of Pakistan and at the same time addressing the concerns of the local industry.

Speaking to the negotiating team, the minister was of the view that while negotiating FTA with Thailand, Pakistan is also looking to access a huge untapped market of the whole East Asian Region. From the same region, Pakistan has already concluded successful FTAs with Malaysia and Indonesia, the minister said.

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