Pak-China FTA to be signed on April 28 in Beijing: Chinese envoy

ISLAMABAD, Apr 22 (APP):Ambassador of China to Pakistan Yao Jing on Monday said that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and China would be singed on April 28 besides other important agreements related to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China.

He said the second round of FTA had finally concluded after eight years of negotiation between the two countries and the final agreement would be signed by the commerce ministers of the two countries during the visit of Pakistan’s PM.

Under the FTA, Jing said, China will provide market access to 90% of Pakistani commodities on zero rated duties, while Pakistan will give market access to 65% tariff lines.

He was addressing a press briefing here at the Chinese Embassy on the upcoming Second Belt and Road Forum to be held in Beijing from April 25 to April 27.

He informed that leaders including heads of states and governments from 37 countries would attend the forum’s roundtable summit but Pakistan being a major partner of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was the most important of all.

“The Chinese Prime Minister and President were looking forward to visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China where he would also hold bilateral meetings with the Chinese leadership to build more consensus on bilateral trade ties,” he added.

The Chinese envoy pointed out that China wanted a more prosperous and developed Pakistan as what he said without the sustainable development in the neighboring countries, China could not survive its development.

He said under the CPEC’s industrial cooperation, first Special Economic Zone at Rashakai was going to be inaugurated later this month where 20 factories would be installed initially.
He assured that the employment in the SEZs would be taken from the local resources and latest technology would be transferred from China to Pakistan.
He informed that cooperation under industrial and social sectors would be the main focus of second phase of CPEC.
“There are six areas under social sector including education, health, agriculture, water, irrigation, and poverty alleviation in which around 26 new projects will be initiated in Pakistan,” he added.

He said two model villages would be built in Pakistan under social sector cooperation of CPEC aimed at uplift the living standard of low income segment of the society.

He said China was basically an agricultural country and it started its development journey with bringing reforms in the agriculture sector and now China would also help Pakistan in revolutionizing its agricultural sector by linking it with the state of the art technology.

With respect to the multi-billion Railway ML1 project, the envoy informed that the technical aspects of the project had already been finalized and this project would hit the ground soon.

He also invited the neighboring countries to become part of the mega project as it was not only beneficial for China and Pakistan but for the whole region.

To a question, Jing said under 11 out of 22 projects had already been completed while work on the remaining 11 projects was going fast adding that on all of these projects an amount of $19 billion had been invested by the Chinese side out of which $13 billion were comprised of commercial loans whereas the remaining loan of $6 billion was concessionary loan to be paid by the Pakistani government with a repayment period of 25-30 years.

To another query regarding status of Karachi Circular Railway, the Chinese envoy was of the view that the two sides were working on the financial model of the project.

For the project, he said there were many options of financial model including Build Operate Transfer (BOT), loaning, and financing from own resources.

Replying to a question regarding investment in Gilgit Baltistan, Yao Jing said China was eager to upgrade and develop the tourists sites in the area to provide facilities to local as well as foreign tourists.