Businessmen have emphasised the need for ensuring transfer of technology under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

“There are huge opportunities for Pakistan under CPEC projects through joint ventures and technology transfer while imports under the Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has affected our local industry,” said Mian Anjum Nisar, President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).

Speaking at a webinar on CPEC and Pakistan-China FTA (Phase-II), Nisar stated the first phase of the FTA had increased trade deficit of Pakistan with China to $16 billion and as per expectations, it would widen further in phase-II.

“The Pak-China FTA (Phase-II) allows duty-free access to 313 tariff lines and China’s total imports of these products stood at $67 billion,” he said and underlined the need for removing under-invoicing, dealing with sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), technical barriers to trade and other barriers.

Speaking on the occasion, Chinese Consul General Li Bijian assured businessmen that his consulate was ready to help them to create communication channels with Chinese companies that would offer huge socio-economic benefits to Pakistan and create employment opportunities. He added that CPEC would benefit the local people, particularly young population, in enhancing their skills and providing employment opportunities.

Li called for improving the quality of products and facilities at project sites, reduction in the time taken for new investment, better prices for Pakistani products, reduction in labour costs, etc.

“Moreover, consistency of economic policies related to taxation is also important for new investment,” he added.

FPCCI Vice President Sheikh Sultan Rehman underscored the need for offering the same incentives to Pakistani industries, which the country’s government was providing to Chinese investors.

Highlighting the projects, he added that China had already completed 80% of first-phase projects related to energy and infrastructure whereas the second phase included projects related to socio-economic development, industrial cooperation and agriculture.

Rehman called for innovation, product diversification and joint ventures as vast opportunities were available under the Pakistan-China FTA (Phase-II).

He added, “China should give a concrete plan for relocating its labour-intensive industries to the SEZs in Pakistan and include Pakistan in the supply chain of its finished goods export like Vietnam and Cambodia.”

Pakistan-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) President Zarak Khan stated that administrative hurdles should be eliminated with improvement in infrastructure for Chinese investment in Pakistan.

He stressed the need for studying the success model of China-Vietnam trade in order to get benefits of the Pakistan-China FTA (Phase-II).

Trade Development Authority of Pakistan Acting Secretary Riaz Sheikh stated that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and other countries had taken huge benefits of FTA with China and there were a lot of opportunities for Pakistani traders that could export agricultural goods, gems, jewellery, frozen seafood, textile, etc.

“Pakistan has to comply with quality and other requirements. There are eight SEZs under the CPEC project which need investment,” he stated.

Chinese Embassy Minister-Counsellor Wang Zhihua revealed that China was planning to organise a trade fair in November, which would provide an opportunity to Pakistan to enhance its trade with China.