Friday, August 12, 2016

Pakistan, China negotiating second phase of FTA, NA told

Zahid Hamid hoped trade under CPEC will have positive impact on Pakistan economy.


The National Assembly resumed its session in Islamabad today with Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi in the chair.  The National Assembly was informed today that Pakistan has undertaken extensive diplomatic efforts to win support within Nuclear Suppliers Group for its membership.    Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch told the House during question hour that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has sent letters to his counterparts in all NSG countries.  He said Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi made phone calls to their counterparts in NSG countries who favored Iran discriminatory criteria-based approach for membership of NPT countries.  Abdul Qadir Baloch said Pakistan's strong multi-pronged lobbying efforts have paid off. He said our arguments for criteria-based approach and negative impact of any India specific resumption on the strategic stability in South Asia and the future of non-proliferation regime have found resonance among several NSG countries.  The Minister said the US is giving importance to India to counter China. However, he said the US has assured Islamabad that it is not doing so at the cost of Pakistan.  Parliamentary Secretary for Inter-Provincial Coordination Muhammad Shafqat Hayat Khan told the House that on the direction of the Prime Minister the government is taking measures to resolve problems of Pakistani labours in Saudi Arabia.  He said Pakistani Ambassador in Riyadh is vigorously pursuing the matter with Saudi authorities and management of the companies concerned in this regard. He pointed out that facilitation centres have also been set up for them and efforts are underway for their settlement in Saudi Arabia or their safe return home.  Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid on behalf of Commerce Minister informed the House that Pakistan and China are negotiating the second phase of Pak-China Free Trade Agreement. He said Pakistan has shared its concerns regarding adverse impact of cheap imports from China on the local industry. He said both sides are working to find an amicable solution which adequately addresses the genuine concerns of both the countries.  To a question, the Minister expressed the hope that transit, bilateral and regional trade under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will increase in future which will have a positive impact on Pakistan's economy.  Answering a question, Zahid Hamid said that Pakistan's exports to UK have increased by about forty percent since 2013. He said as UK negotiates its withdrawal from EU, GSP Plus facility in UK is likely to remain available for Pakistani exporters for another two years. He pointed out that UK is a leading trade partner of Pakistan and Pak-UK bilateral trade stood at 2.06 billion euros in 2015. He said Pakistan is also in the process of negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with UK to enhance bilateral trade.  Meanwhile, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada told the House that a fourteen member Pakistan's contingent will participate in Olympics Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro.  He said the contingent include seven athletes, four coaches and three officials. He said three officials will be sponsored by the International Olympics Association. He said no extra burden is being put on the national exchequer as was reported by some newspapers.  The journalists staged a token walkout from the press gallery to protest the murder of a journalist in Sindh and violence against a reporter in Khushab. They demanded that the Parliament should take notice of these incidents. They said FIRs have not been registered for these two incidents.  Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada assured the journalists that the Speaker will take up the issue with the concerned IGs in Sindh and Punjab.  Later, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Shaikh Aftab Ahmad laid before the House an authenticated copy of the Address of the President of Pakistan before both Houses assembled together on 1st of June this year.  The House adopted a motion moved by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs for expressing its deep gratitude to the President for his address to the Parliament.  The National Assembly also today passed two bills.  These include "The Banks (Nationalization) (Amendment) Bill, 2016" and "The Deposit Protection Corporation Bill, 2016".  These bills were moved by Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan.  The House will begin discussion on the President's address on Monday.  The House will now meet tomorrow afternoon at five.