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Pakistan does a reality check on trade agreements

Pakistan is reviewing its free trade agreements with other countries. The country is a signatory to free trade agreements with China, Sri Lanka and Malaysia and preferential trade agreements with Iran, Indonesia and Mauritius.

Presently Pakistan is in the process of negotiating free trade agreements with Thailand, Turkey, South Korea and Iran. FTAs were expected to broaden trading opportunities for Pakistani businessmen. But there is an impression Pakistan had poorly negotiated three out of a total of four FTAs as imports from China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka are rising faster than exports.

Turkey imposed an extraordinary duty on Pakistani textile products due to which Pakistan’s exports nosedived from $900 million to $400 million and efforts made by Pakistan to bring exports to the level of 2011 remained fruitless. A free trade agreement with Malaysia failed to provide a level playing field as the trade balance has remained in favor of Malaysia from day one.

Pakistan’s trading partners have negotiated bilateral and multilateral trade pacts with other countries thus securing greater market access. Pakistan has requested China to open the services sector for deeper linkages and greater market access to each other’s markets.