ISLAMABAD (Business Recorder) - Pakistan and Iran have finalized initial draft of much-awaited Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and expeditious resolution of banking channel issues, official sources told Business Recorder. This understanding was reached during the third meeting of the Trade Negotiation Committee (TNC) on Pakistan-Iran Free Trade Area Agreement (PIFTA) held on November 21-22, 2017 in Tehran.
The Iranian delegation was headed by Mirhadi Seyedi, deputy of Export Market Development, Iran Trade Promotion Organization, and the Pakistan's delegation was headed by Bilal Khan Pasha, Joint Secretary Ministry of Commerce and Textile (Commerce Division (FT-Il). The next meeting of NTC is expected to be held in January 2018 in Islamabad in which FTA which comprises of 26 articles and five annexure is expected to be further expedited.
The sources said that text of FTA was finalized after two days' marathon deliberations between the officials and technical experts. Both parties reviewed the status of the negotiations held so far and the progress made in order to proceed further on all decisions taken earlier by the TNC particularly during the 2nd TNC Meeting in Islamabad. Various ways and means were discussed to expedite the issues at hand.
Both parties reviewed the recent trade statistics of bilateral trade and reaffirmed the necessity of formal exchange of trade statistics by their customs authorities regularly in the format which has already been determined. According to sources, the Pakistani side informed the Iranian side of its readiness for participation in a seminar which would be hosted by Iran in order to increase the awareness of the opportunities available under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for Iranian private and business sectors. Iran will consider the matter and follow it in close contact with Pakistani side.
In order to expedite early finalization of the drafts of FTA, MRAs on TBT and SPS issues and customs cooperation, both sides agreed that the relevant sub-committees' members will negotiate on concluding the MRAs texts simultaneously along with the TNC negotiations
Both sides held preliminary discussions on the base year, HS Digits level, Tariff Reduction Modality (TRM) and FTA in Goods to be finalized in the next TNC meetings.