ISLAMABAD: High-level delegations of Turkey and Thailand are due to arrive in Pakistan on January 17 to negotiate free trade agreements (FTAs) that are likely to be signed in the next three months.
“Trade representatives of Turkey and Thailand are coming to accelerate the process and discuss commodity lists and tariff rates for the FTAs,” a top official in the Ministry of Commerce said.
Talking about the FTA with China, the official said its second phase had become due. The agreement was signed between the two countries in 2007.
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He, however, pointed out that Pakistan was eager to win duty relaxation on 50 products before launching the second phase of FTA. “Pakistan wants relaxation on these products to protect the local market and ensure competitiveness,” he clarified. Responding to a question, the official acknowledged that the domestic market was currently not in a position to compete effectively with mature economies.
“We are just coping with energy demand from the local market and the market will take some time to boost production and growth,” he remarked.
He was of the view that once the phase-II with China was launched, it would bind both the countries to eliminate tariffs, however, at this stage it would be difficult for Pakistan to provide such concessions.
He revealed that China was giving good offers for entering the FTA’s phase-II and both sides had also agreed on the demand list.
“We demanded unilateral relaxation on 50 different products for the coming few years before signing the phase-II,” he said.
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“We are in consultation with exporters and chambers including all stakeholders to involve them in the policy dialogue and get their input for the FTAs with these countries,” he said.
Replying to a question, the official said the government was committed to protecting the domestic market in order to provide a competitive environment for the market and exporters.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2017.
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