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Pakistan's exports to China double in four years

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Pakistan's exports to China have doubled in four years since the signing of a free trade agreement between the two countries.

Pakistan's exports to China rose from $576 million in 2006 to $1.154 billion in 2009-10. Imports from China increased from $3.35 billion in 2006 to $4.14 billion in 2009-10.

Pakistan's exports to China include textile raw materials, fish and fish products, leather products and marble and other stones.

Its major imports from China are cellular phones, synthetic fibre and rubber tyres.

Mujeeb Ahmed Khan, Head WTO Cell at Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, told The News that almost 90 percent cell phones used in Pakistan are made in China. ''Before the FTA, 26 percent of our cell phone import came from China. Import of cell phones from Hungary, Finland, Korea and other countries has declined.''

He said Pakistan has also benefited from its free trade agreement with Sri Lanka, which was signed in 2005.

Export to Sri Lanka increased from $150 million in 2005 to $225 million in 2009-10, while imports declined to $56 million in 2009-10 from $60 million in 2005.

Pakistan imports 1,200 tons betel leaves a year from Sri Lanka at 35 percent duty. Sri Lanka allows 6,000 tons of Basmati rice and 1,000 tons of potatoes annually at zero duty.

Pakistan has given zero duty status to 256 Sri Lankan products and received zero duty status for 102 of its products.

Pakistan has signed preferential trade agreements with Malaysia, Mauritius and Iran and has also signed the South Asian Free Trade Agreement, which has been rather unsuccessful owing to unfriendly relations between India and Pakistan.

Currently, Pakistan and Indonesia are negotiating a PTA. Indonesia is the first country that has offered PTA to Pakistan. In other cases, Pakistan placed the request for such agreements, Khan said.

Pakistan's largest import of palm oil comes from Malaysia, now 85 percent of its total consumption compared with 60 percent before the PTA. Indonesia wants more share of Pakistan's palm oil purchases.

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