ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China on Monday failed to evolve consensus on second phase of Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA-II) as both sides refused to accepts each other’s offer, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.
The Chinese side was represented by Vice Minister for Commerce Wang Shouwen, whereas Secretary Commerce Younus Dagha-led Pakistani team comprised representatives of different Ministries/Divisions.
The sources said Pakistan urged for concessions for its textile sector but China did not agree for its proposal, which led to a deadlock-like situation.
“The intensity of deadlock can be gauged from the fact that minutes of the meeting were not drafted,” the sources continued. The Chinese, who appeared to be unhappy about the situation, said that they would exchange 10th round’s minutes through email.
“Finalisation of CPFTA-II is deferred,” said an official.
Commerce Secretary, Younus Dagha held a one-hour one to one meeting with the head of the visiting Chinese delegation and conveyed to him Pakistan’s position on the offer list.
Prior to a formal meeting with the Chinese, a top-level meeting held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister, which was attended by Commerce Minister, Pervaiz Malik, Prime Minister Advisor on Revenue, Senator Haroon Akhtar Khan, Secretary Commerce, and other officials.
The sources said, Commerce Minister, Haroon and Akhtar and other stakeholders opposed the signing of FTA-II until local industry is not satisfied.
One of the participants told Business Recorder that Commerce Minister complained against his Ministry for not taking him on board on various policy decisions. The Prime Minister was also astonished by this situation.
CPFTA Part-1 was in favour of China, given their exports to Pakistan are more than $ 15 billion against Pakistani exports to China of a mere $1.5 billion last year.
In the last round of talks held on February 6-7, 2018 in Beijing, both sides conducted intensive discussions on tariff reduction modalities and key requested products, which led to narrowing of divergences between the two countries. Both the sides agreed that the outcome of the meeting will serve as the basis of future negotiations with a view to concluding the second phase of CPFTA in the near future. Regarding 75 tariff lines offered by Pakistan, China requested Pakistan to include the majority of its 1394 key products.
According to sources China expressed its willingness to 100 percent Electronic Data Exchange (EDE) but it was not ready on clawback of 5 items.
China is also ready to allow duty-free access of 57 items from Pakistan immediately. Pakistan is also willing to extend similar concessions on auto sector which are offered to Thailand.
When contacted, Secretary Commerce said: “More discussions would be required on Chinese offer to make it coincide with our industry’s interests.”