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FTA between Pakistan-China to be singed on April 28

23 April, 2019

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Ambassador of China to Pakistan Yao Jing on Monday said that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA)-Phase II between Pakistan and China will be singed on April 28, besides other important agreements related to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Beijing.

Addressing a press conference here, the Chinese envoy said the FTA has been finally concluded after eight years of negotiations and it will be inked by the commerce ministers of two countries during the visit of the Pakistani prime minister. Under the FTA-Phase II, he said, China will provide market access to 90% of Pakistani commodities at zero-rated duty, while Pakistan will give China market access to 65% tariff lines.

Briefing media about the upcoming Belt and Road Forum to be held in Beijing from April 25 to 27, the ambassador said world leaders, including heads of state and government from 37 countries, will attend the forum’s roundtable summit, but Pakistan being a major partner of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the most important of all. “Chinese prime minister and president are looking forward to the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China where he will also hold bilateral meetings with the Chinese leadership to build further consensus on bilateral trade ties,” he added.

The Chinese envoy pointed out that China wants a more prosperous and developed Pakistan as without sustainable development in the neighbouring countries, Beijing cannot sustain its development. He said under the CPEC’s industrial cooperation, the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Rashakai was going to be inaugurated during the current month where 20 factories will be set up initially. He said employment in the SEZs will be given to the local people and the latest technology will be transferred from China to Pakistan.

Cooperation in industrial and social sectors will be the main focus of the second phase of CPEC, the envoy said. “There are six areas in the social sector, including education, health, agriculture, water, irrigation, and poverty alleviation in which around 26 new projects will be initiated in Pakistan,” he added.

The ambassador said two model villages will be built in Pakistan under the social sector cooperation of CPEC to uplift the living standard of low-income segments of the society. He said China is basically an agricultural country and it started its development journey with bringing reforms in the agriculture sector. It will now help Pakistan in revolutionizing its agricultural sector by linking it with the state of the art technology, he added.

With respect to the multi-billion Railways ML1 project, the envoy said as its technical aspects have already been finalized, the project will hit the ground soon. He also invited the neighbouring countries to become part of the mega project as it is not only beneficial to China and Pakistan but also for the whole region.

To a question, Jing said 11 out of 22 projects have already been completed while the work on the remaining is going fast. “In total $19 billion have been invested by China on all the projects: $13 billion lent as commercial loans and $6 billion as concessionary loans to be repaid by the Pakistani government in 25-30 years,” he said.

To a query regarding the Karachi Circular Railway, the Chinese envoy said the two sides are working on its financial model. Many options of financial model, including build-operate-transfer (BOT), loaning, and financing from own resources, are under consideration, he added.

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