Why Pakistan has put off signing revised FTA with China?

Why Pakistan has put off signing revised FTA with China?

*ISLAMABAD: *Pakistan has put off the signing of a revised free trade agreement with China at the last moment due to strong reservations about the final offer list shared by Beijing, said Minister of State for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal on Thursday.

“The agreement was almost ready for signing when we conveyed our reservations to the prime minister about the final list of concessions that Beijing shared at 11pm,” said the deputy finance minister.

He was briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance on the status of negotiations on second phase of the free trade agreement (FTA) with China.

The committee expressed concern over what it said was the secret nature of FTA-II talks. Over the past few weeks, the Chinese ambassador has held meetings with the commerce secretary and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in order to push the deal.

It was almost a mature agreement and was about to be signed by both countries, Afzal said, revealing the decision to delay the endorsement was taken after the business community of Faisalabad – Pakistan’s textile hub – voiced serious reservations about the Chinese final offer list

Both countries have so far held 10 rounds of negotiations for finalisation of the FTA-II. However, the industry and Federal Board of Revenue put up fierce resistance after the commerce ministry revealed in an internal meeting that Pakistan would offer zero duties on 75% of imported tariff lines.

Under first phase of the FTA, Pakistan gave duty concessions on 35% of tariff lines, which led to a huge influx of Chinese goods and many local industries could not survive.

Under the second phase, China was seeking certain concessions which the Pakistan industry was not ready to give, said Afzal.