Pakistan to finalise ‘negative list’ by February

November 15th, 2011 - 9:18 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 15 (IANS) After granting the most favoured nation (MFN) status, Pakistan has decided to move from a “positive” to “negative list” trade regime with India by February 2012, it was announced Tuesday.

“The consultation process on devising the negative list is almost complete. A small negative list shall be finalised and ratified by February,” said a joint statement issued after the 6th round of talks on commercial and economic cooperation between India and Pakistan here.

The development is expected to boost trade between the two countries.

Pakistan maintains a “positive list” of 1,945 items which are allowed to be imported freely from India. Under the South Asian Free Trade Agreement, Pakistan operates a sensitive list (negative list) of 1,169 items.

Addressing a press conference after the two-day secretary level talks here, India’s Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar said the two countries have agreed to move forward for “full normalisation” of trade relations.

In the first phase, Pakistan has agreed to move from “positive list” to “negative list” trade regime by February. It will phase out the negative list by the end of 2012.

Once the negative list goes, all goods can be traded freely.

“The timing for this phasing out will be announced in February 2012… It is expected that the phasing out will be completed before the end of 2012,” the joint statement said.

The decision to move from the “positive list” to “negative list” trade regime follows a Pakistani cabinet decision Nov 2 to grant India the MFN status, an important step in the normalization of trade ties.

With granting the MFN status, Pakistan now treats India on par with its other favoured trading partners. India had granted Pakistan the MFN status in 1996.

India and Pakistan have also agreed to move towards enhancing preferential trading arrangements under the SAFTA process.

They target to increase bilateral trade to $6 billion in three years, from the current $2.7 billion.

Khullar and his Pakistani counterpart Zafar Mahmood held the 6th round of talks on commercial and economic cooperation here.

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