ISLAMABAD: China has agreed to double Pakistani zero rated exports’ volume aimed at reducing trade deficit which is hovering around $ 10 billion.

Senior Pakistani and Chinese trade officials will hold another meeting at Beijing on Thursday (tomorrow) to deliberate on items to be included in the list of zero duty items.

Pakistan had sought unilateral concessions on 313 items from China which has not been entertained in the way Pakistan had asked for.

“Another meeting is scheduled for tomorrow in Beijing with nothing concrete yet from the Chinese side but Commerce Division is trying for unilateral market access to get at least $ 2-3 billion immediate relief from China,” said an official.

However, Prime Minister’s Advisor on Commerce, Textile, Industries and Production and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood, who was a key member of Prime Minister’s entourage to China, told Business Recorder on Monday that the issue of unilateral concessions on 313 items has been discussed with the Chinese leadership.

“China has considered Pakistani proposal but offered to double Pakistan’s exports at zero duty which would be around $ 1.2 billion per annum,” he said, adding that if Pakistan achieves the first agreed target, then China will enhance its volume further.

Dawood said that it is a very positive omen as this was conveyed by the Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang at the high level meetings in the presence of Prime Minister, Imran Khan.

According to Dawood, he has directed Secretary Commerce, Younus Dagha to extend his stay in China to finalise a list of items to be included in the list of duty free items, adding that officials of other ministries concerned are also joining the team headed by Commerce Secretary.

“Till now there was general discussion on trade issues but now the Chinese have

thrown the ball into Pakistan’s court.

The team led by Dagha will finalise the list of items to be included in the list of items allowed to be exported to China duty free. I talked with Secretary Commerce on the phone on Monday,” he continued.

The team will discuss share of each item of Pakistan’s interest with the Chinese officials within the offered cushion of $ 1 billion or $ 1.2 billion per annum.

Pakistan has already sought duty free access of rice, sugar and clinker, in addition to other traditional items, he said, adding that now Pakistan has to do its homework.

“Our exports’ increase to China will not be easy. Pakistani industry has to perform well to achieve the target set with China. Now I have to visit, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Lahore, Faisalabad and Karachi etc .to mobilize the manufacturers and exporters who have the capacity to meet the orders,” Dawood continued.

This year, while discussing second phase of FTA, the two sides had reached a consensus that each party shall eliminate 75 per cent of its tariff lines, covering 67 per cent of Pakistani import value from China and 90 per cent of China’s import value from Pakistan and two sides will respectively conduct partial tariff reduction on another 5 per cent of tariff lines and the partial reduction would consist of 3 sub-categories (i) Margin of Preference (MoP) 20 per cent in force on the day that the second phase CPFTA comes in force; (ii) MoP 20 per cent in force on the first day of 2022; and (iii) MOP 15 per cent in force on the day that the second phase CPFTA comes in force.