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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Thailand have agreed on a market access strategy under the proposed free trade agreement to increase the volume of bilateral trade.

The understanding was reached between the technical teams of both countries during the fifth round of negotiations that was held last week in Bangkok, Thailand.

The sixth round of the meeting will be held in Islamabad on Dec 22-23, 2016. The first round of treaty was held in Oct 2015.

An official source privy to the meeting told

Dawn that both sides have exchanged lists of items for duty concession under the treaty. Bangkok handed over a list of 1,700 items seeking duty reduction on it.

On the other hand, Pakistan has sought market access on 1,200 items. “These are requests lists which will be further consulted with relevant stakeholders,” the official said.

The official said Pakistan has specially requested for market access on 650 items. He said Bangkok has agreed to offer for almost all these products. However, Thailand is reluctant to give any preferential market access for Pakistani rice and leather products.

Pakistani textile products, sports goods, carpets, etc will get preferential market access under the proposed FTA.

Both sides also agreed to cover the non-tariff barriers under the treaty.

On the request of Bangkok, both sides agreed to arrange meetings of automobile sectors to work out details on any engagement. The official said Pakistan has offered Thai investors to invest in the Pakistani auto sector.

No market access will be offered in the areas of papers and some chemicals due to resistance from local manufacturers, the official said.

It was agreed during the meeting that Pakistan will phase out regulatory duties on importable items after five years of the implementation of the treaty.

Trade volume between Pakistan and Thailand was $952 million at the end of 2015-16, in which Pakistan exports were $107m and imports were $845m.

Exportable items to Thailand currently include fish and fish preparations, cotton fabrics for women, paper and paper board, raw cotton, cotton yarn, leather, medical and pharmaceutical products, the material of animal origin, medical and surgical instruments, chemical element and compounds.

Published in Dawn November 22nd, 2016