ISLAMABAD: In a bid to promote trade and bolster the local industry, Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday assured the business community of Pakistan that the government is negotiating ‘win-win’ free trade agreements (FTAs) with Thailand and Turkey.
While presenting the status of negotiations in Lahore, ministry officials said that enhanced trade liberalisation is the need of the hour and would benefit the industry as well as the consumers in Pakistan in the long run.
They also said that the ministry will hold sector-specific consultations with the business community to seek their input on the list of items and products.
This was announced at a consultative meeting on potential FTAs with Turkey and Thailand, organised by the Ministry of Commerce in collaboration with the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) to seek input from the business community.
Presenting the objectives of the meeting, Robina Athar, Member, National Tariff Commission (NTC) and former chief negotiator for FTAs and additional secretary, ministry of commerce dispelled the general perception that Pakistan has not gained in the FTAs signed earlier.
Terming the consultation process a refreshing change to solicit input for trade policy formulation and bilateral agreements, the LCCI Vice President said that the government should ensure protection for the local industry.
Briefing the audience about negotiations with Turkey, Ministry of Commerce Deputy Secretary (Europe) Ahmed Fasih informed that in addition to goods Pakistan is also negotiating trade in services with Turkey.
“Pakistan is negotiating on financial services, telecommunication services, e-commerce, audio-visual services, co-production in films, drama and other arts, logistics and road freight transport sectors,” he said.
Making a presentation on the state of negotiations with Thailand, Ministry of Commerce, Deputy Secretary (Asia-Pacific) Shafiq Shahzad said that quantitative estimates show that the proposed FTA between Pakistan and Thailand would lead to both trade creation and trade diversion.
During the consultation, representatives of different business communities and traders associations raised their concerns and suggestions with regard to FTAs with Turkey and Thailand.
They were of the view that the ministry should continue to engage with relevant industry and business community for input.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2016.