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October 6, 2017



Pakistan proposes free trade agreement with Vietnam

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday proposed Vietnam to start working towards mutually-beneficial trade agreements to boost bilateral trade with the south east Asian economy. 

Ministry of commerce is enhancing its trade diplomacy efforts and are currently negotiating three FTAs (free trade agreements) with Thailand and Turkey, (while) 2nd phase of China-Pakistan FTA and dialogue with South Korea, Japan and Iran are in the initial phases,” Younus Dagha, the ministry’s secretary told a visiting Vietnamese delegation during the fourth meeting of the joint trade commission between Vietnam and Pakistan.

Cao Quoc Hung, vice minister of industry and trade in Vietnam led the Vietnamese delegation. Dagha said both the countries should explore means of free and preferential trade agreements to improve bilateral trade volume. 

The bilateral trade amounted to more than $400 million during the last fiscal year of 2016/17, which is a minuscule 0.5 percent of Pakistan’s estimated trade volume of over $70 billion.

Trade, however, was in favour of Pakistan with exports standing at $230.57 million and imports amounting to $200.49 million in FY2017.  

Pakistan has so far signed FTA with China and Sri Lanka, but it has PTA arrangements with a few other countries. 

Commerce secretary said Pakistan and Vietnam enjoy friendly relations based on mutual trust and cooperation and that both countries have tremendous potential for increasing bilateral trade.

He said the economy has been on the recovery path since 2013 and that GDP recorded a decade high growth of 5.3 percent during the last fiscal year. 

“The government’s effort to restore peace and stability and meeting energy requirements has helped Pakistan take strides towards economic prosperity and this has made Pakistan a very lucrative market for investments,” he added.

Dagha said the commerce ministry has embarked on a comprehensive trade reform agenda and is currently reforming strategic trade policy framework.  “We are working with other government agencies for establishment of the national single window to expedite trade clearance, aggressive implementation of trade facilitation agreement and tariff rationalisation to further improve our competitiveness and reduce cost of doing business,” he added. 

Secretary commerce expressed interest in exporting oranges, mangoes and meat to Vietnam.

The heads of the two delegations identified obstacles and impediments to trade and set actions to further develop and promote trade relations between the two countries.

Hung of Vietnam stressed a need to further increase and diversify composition of bilateral trade “in a balanced and mutually beneficial manner.”

“Both Pakistan and Vietnam need to enhance bilateral trade cooperation through further exchange of business delegations, participation in trade fairs, and increased cooperation among their respective chambers of commerce and industry, trade promotion organisations and missions,” he said. “Such activities would help increase volume of trade.”

Both the sides affirmed their determination to cooperate in energy, textile, chemical, technology, auto, pharmaceutical, sports goods, gems and jewelry, food processing and infrastructure development sectors. 

Both the officials agreed to explore the possibilities of cooperation in seafood sector through setting up joint ventures in shrimp farming and processing.  They agreed to hold the fifth meeting of the joint trade commission scheduled next year in Hanoi.