ISLAMABAD-China on Tuesday assured to address Islamabad’s concerns on the free trade agreement (FTA) during the upcoming talks and give maximum concessions to Pakistan to increase its exports to China.

Pakistan and China are renegotiating on the second phase of FTA and next round of talks would be held next month (February), said Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing in a press conference along with Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile Industry Pervaiz Malik. The Chinese envoy vowed to protect the local industry of Pakistan. "We never want to damage Pakistan’s industry through any kind of bilateral agreement”.

The ambassador said that China wants to facilitate the mechanism of bilateral trade. “We want to encourage and facilitate trade cooperation on principles of following Pakistan’s convenience, concerns and satisfying its requirements,” he added. China is ready to open any door for improving trade with Pakistan, he said. Yao Jing admitted that currently bilateral trade is in China’s favour due to the import of machinery under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said there is plenty of scope for increasing trade of many products to China including sugar, maize, vegetables, textile products and seafood.

Talking about the setting up of special economic zones (SEZs) in Pakistan under CPEC, the ambassador said that China would accommodate the proposals and suggestions of Pakistani stakeholders. “China will support Pakistan in special economic zones and through joint ventures in long-term, which would help increase its capacity to manufacture quality products for export to international markets,” he remarked.

Yao Jing further said that CPEC projects and special economic zones would reduce cost of production of various goods and improve Pakistan's exports. He also assured to relax the business visa for Pakistani businessmen.

Earlier, Chinese ambassador invited Pakistan to attend a six-day international Import Expo scheduled to be held at National Exhibition and Convention Center, Shanghani, from November 5 to 10, 2018. He invited Pakistan as a guest of honor in the first-ever such exhibition in China. He said it will be a great opportunity for Pakistani exporters to display their products in this expo as it is an international event.

“China will love to buy Pakistani products whether these are edible, textile or any other items. China will like to buy whatever competitive products Pakistan introduces in the Chinese markets,” he said. He said Chinese President Xi Jinping last year had announced at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that China will hold China International Import Expo (CIIE) in 2018.

Before the press conference, Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador, held meeting with Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile Industry Pervaiz Malik and Secretary Commerce Younas Dhaga.

Addressing the press conference, Pervaiz Malik said a number of issues have been discussed during the meeting with the Chinese ambassador. Younus Dhaga would visit China in February for the next round of the FTA discussions, he said and added that China has assured its support to review FTA, which is currently in favour of China.

He accepted the invitation of the Chinese ambassador to participate in the exhibition. “It is our own expo and we will have full representation in it.”