Pakistan should ink agreement with China for business visa relaxation: Ijaz Khokhar

Lahore, April 20, 2015 (PPI-OT): The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association has welcomed the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s historic visit to Pakistan, demanding the authorities to also sign a deal of visa relaxation along with a number of other important agreements and MoUs worth $46 billion.

PRGMEA Chairman, Ijaz Khokhar, observed that the Prime Minister should personally take interest to ink an agreement with China to remove visa restriction, as presently the local businessmen are facing serious issues regarding release of visa for China.

Ijaz Khokhar said that the Free Trade Agreement signed between Pakistan and China has shown positive results and bilateral trade volume increased from around $6 billion in 2006 to $16 billion in 2014 but visa limitations are still existing and long and complicated procedure are adopted in this regard.

The Pakistani visitors have to face lengthy procedures, besides waiting in long queues to get the visa, he added. Both the authorities should reach an agreement to devise a simple policy to issue visa easily, he said and added that the economic corridor can only benefit when the continuous exchange of delegations goes on and more and more trade teams visit each other country.

Moreover, he observed that Pakistan is facing a revenue loss of Rs. 22 billion per annum due to a trade imbalance, adding that Islamabad could not reap the benefits of Margin of Preferences after China signed FTAs with other countries, especially ASEAN. Giving details, he said though Pakistan’s exports to China increased from a few million dollars to $2.5 billion yet Chinese imports soared to $8 billion.

PRGMEA vice chairman Malik Naseer said that the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA), which was inked in 2006 and enforced in 2007, brought maximum opportunities for businessmen and consumers of the two countries. Currently, the balance of trade tips in favour of China but efforts should be made to increase exports and decrease imports.

Malik Naseer asked the authorities to focus on more incentives for Pakistan to make up the losses it suffered due to dumping of cheap Chinese products in its markets. He appreciated the move that Pakistan and China had also agreed to open branches of each other’s banks on their soil.

With the opening of Pakistani banks in China, it is expected that a substantial amount of money would move through them, raising not only the country’s foreign exchange reserves but also help boost its economy and gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

Ijaz Khokhar urged the government to allocate the export development fund to the Textile Ministry so that the fund could be utilised for development of export, as textile sector’s contribution to EDF stands at Rs.11.5 billion. PRGMEA Central Chairman said that the sector’s production could grow by over 80% provided stuck up funds were released immediately.

Malik Naseer said that the country has failed to improve its textile exports despite getting the status of GSP plus. On the other hand, India had provided full support to its textile sector, giving financial incentives and discount on the import of machinery so that the country could compete with Pakistani goods in the international markets.

For more information, contact:
Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA)
18-A, Shaheen View Building,
Block-VI, P.E.C.H.S., Shahrah-e-Faisal,
Karachi-75400, Pakistan
Tel: +92-21-34549073, +92-21-34547912
Fax: +92-21-34539669

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