China and Pakistan have agreed on market access and basically
wrapped up negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA), sources
with China's Ministry of Commerce said today.
The two have conducted five rounds of negotiations since last
April and the latest wrapped up in Beijing on Friday.
The announcement came ahead of a state visit by President Hu Jintao to neighboring Pakistan, whose trade
with China grew 39 percent year-on-year to US$4.26 billion last
This month Hu will also visit Vietnam, Laos and India, where
talks on another potential free trade partnership will be held, and
attend the 14th Economic Leaders Informal Meeting of the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Hanoi from November 17 to
Chinese authorities have expressed their willingness to discuss
with Japan the establishment of an FTA after Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe proposed the idea on November 3.
The past five years have seen China establish FTAs with various
trading partners. As the world's fourth largest economy,
it has been talking with 27 countries and regions about the
establishment of nine FTAs, covering a quarter of China's total
trade, according to sources with the Ministry of Commerce.
Last year China signed an FTA cargo trade agreement with Chile
and started an all-round tariff reduction process with the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The mainland,
meanwhile, implemented a Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement
with Hong Kong and Macao.
China is also holding FTA talks with Singapore, Australia, New
Zealand and Gulf countries.
Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Cui Tiankai said FTAs are
necessary to the economic and trade development of China and its
partners. "China hopes all these negotiations will achieve
substantial progress and lead to FTAs as early as possible," he
The China-Pakistan FTA talks started last April in Islamabad
after Premier Wen Jiabao and Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat
Aziz signed an "early harvest" FTA, under which China would impose
agreed tariff rates on 2,244 categories of products originating in
(Xinhua News Agency November 13, 2006)