Associated Press of Pakistan | 13 April 2008
Pakistan, China discuss Transit Trade Agreement, expand scope of FTA
By Shafek E Koreshe
BEIJING, April 13 (APP): Pakistan and China have made substantial progress towards entering a Transit Trade Agreement, expanding the scope of Free Trade Agreement, besides identifying new areas of cooperation to further strengthen their multi-faceted ties. The President who is on a six-day visit to China to hold wide-ranging talks with its leaders made significant headway on a host of issues during the several rounds of talks with the Chinese leaders including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.
President Pervez Musharraf who arrived here in China’s capital after attending the annual Boao Forum for Asia and holding talks with President Hu Jintao at Sanya, in Hainan island met Premier Wen Jiabao at the Prime Minister Office - Zhong Nanhai.
The two leaders reaffirmed their resolve to further strengthen their ties in all spheres. President Pervez Musharraf said he was here in China to see its progress and rapid development.
“We rejoice the success, achievements and progress of China that remains our time-tested and all-weather friend,” President Musharraf said.
Premier Wen Jiabao said the visit of the President will further promote the friendly ties between the two countries. He said the two leaders have had several meetings over the past several years that signified the excellent relations the two countries had.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told APP that in several rounds of talks the two sides also discussed the need for adopting “corrective mechanism” to offset their trade imbalance.
He said the two countries have agreed on a five-year trade and economic development plan, and the projects falling in this category will get concessional credit. Both the countries also identified several new areas, where they can extend cooperation through the already existing mechanism.
Pakistan and China signed a free trade pact in 2006 that covers goods and investments and are looking at ways to add the segment of Trade and Services besides raising the two-way trade to US 15 billion dollars much before the stipulated time. Bilateral trade between the two countries is around US 7 billion dollars.
The two countries also inked three more agreements on cooperation between the Ministries of Finance, town planning and construction and Pakistan Television Corporation and the China Central Televison (CCTV) for enhanced exchanges and television joint productions.
The agreement on finance aims at bringing the banking sectors of the two countries closer in policy making, information exchange, planning and coordinating while dealing with international financial institutions.
Another agreement between the Capital Development Authority and the Chinese Academy for Architecture and Design will assist the body in construction and assisting in building designs, landscaping and townplanning.
The agreement between the two state-owned television channels aims at increasing joint-productions, exchange of technical expertise.
Pakistan and China earlier inked three agreements at Sanya on Friday following two rounds of formal talks between President Pervez Musharraf and President Hu Jintao.
These included an MoU between the Ministries of Water and Power of the two countries to extend cooperation in managing water resources and hydel power, another on cooperation in sports and culture and the third for cooperation in the area of engineering, sciences and technology. Under the agreement a consortium of Chinese universities will help setup a modern international level university in Islamabad.
During the talks the two sides also discussed in detail the possibility of materializing the proposal made by President Pervez Musharraf of building a rail link along the Karakoram Highway for linking the Gwadar port with China. A Chinese firm has already conducted the feasibility study and has submitted its report to President Hu Jintao.
President Musharraf in his talks with the Chinese leaders said that when completed the project could claim to be the ninth wonder of the world and would go a long way in further boosting trade and commerce ties between the two countries.
The feasibility of having a fibre cable connectivity between the two countries for enhanced data, voice and video traffic also came under discussion. The two countries also reviewed the prospects of building an oil and gas pipeline along the KKH to meet the future energy needs of the two countries.