Commerce ministry reaches out to business community on Pak-China FTA

  • ‘Now that Pakistan has zero per cent duty on 313 products in China, it is for our entrepreneurs to capitalise on opportunities created due to this additional market access’

ISLAMABAD: Commerce Secretary Sardar Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera held consultations with the business community of Faisalabad on the recently concluded the Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement Phase II.

Discussions pertaining to the exports were held with the trade associations while views related to industrial development were shared with the Faisalabad Industrial Estate Development and Management Company (FIEDMC), according to a commerce division statement.

In a presentation at the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Commerce Division Joint Secretary Shafiq Shahzad informed that Pakistan has secured duty-free access on 313 items in China under the CPFTA Phase II.

“These items make the core of Pakistan’s production base and constitute more than 80pc of Pakistan’s national export basket,” he said, adding that China imports merchandise worth $64 billion from the world in these 313 categories.

“Now that Pakistan has zero per cent duty on these products in China, it is for our entrepreneurs to capitalise on the opportunities created due to this additional market access,” he stated. “If we are able to secure even 10pc of this market share, our exports will increase by $6.4 billion.”

He said the Phase II of the FTA would correct the trade imbalance with China, which resulted from the phase I.

The business community appreciated the contours of the FTA and stated that China was an attractive market for Pakistan and the best way to benefit from these opportunities was to develop joint venture production facilities with the Chinese.

The commerce secretary stated that the Ministry of Commerce had recently held two business-to-business forums in China where it was decided that such events would be held after every two months to develop business linkages between the entrepreneurs of both sides.

The FCCI president appreciated the competitiveness enhancement measures of the government and demanded a continuity of policy measures, especially the predictability of gas and energy tariff and continuation of the PM’s export package. However, he raised concern on the volatility of exchange rate which was restraining the investors and exporters from taking business positions.

The FIEDMC management briefed the Ministry of Commerce on the progress regarding the operationalisation of the industrial estate. The modalities of the development of an expo centre, along with the industrial estate, were also discussed.

On a question regarding the revival of the sick industry, the commerce secretary stated that the Ministry of Commerce would arrange a session in China next month with the potential investors to enter into JVs with the owners of sick units, which can be operationalised in a shorter period than the greenfield projects.

In a meeting with the Yarn Merchants Associations, the business climate in the country was discussed in detail. The representatives of the association highlighted the challenges faced by the industry in the current business climate.

They stated that the industrial competitiveness had improved due to the rationalisation of exchange rate, competitive cost of gas and electricity, zero rating of export sectors, PM’s export package and the stability of export refinance rate.

However, they added, such policies needed a reasonable period of continuity to enable the industrialists to invest in production capacities for creation of exportable surplus.