Trade diplomacy: India presses Pakistan for MFN status (Lead)November 24th, 2010 - 9:39 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) Even as ties between India and Pakistan remain frosty, India Wednesday told a visiting 12-member Pakistani trade delegation that Islamabad should grant New Delhi Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status and called for a five-fold increase in bilateral trade.
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said India hoped that the Pakistan government would implement the recommendations of the Panel of Economists appointed by the Pakistan Planning Commission and urged Islamabad to accord MFN status to India.
Rao also asked Pakistan to shift from a positive list of imports to a negative list regime to achieve a five-fold increase in bilateral trade from $2 billion to $10 billion.
Rao was inaugurating a FICCI conference on ‘India-Pakistan Economic Relations: Prospects & Challenges’.
Rao assured business leaders of India’s commitment to facilitating greater economic cooperation and integration between India and Pakistan and the South Asia region.
Rao said that to improve infrastructure and streamline and harmonise customs procedures at the land borders, India was setting up a modern integrated check post at the India-Pakistan border at Attari for trade facilitation. This is expected to be ready by April 2011.
She pressed for the opening up of more rail and road routes and expanding the existing capacities on operational routes. “As things stand, Pakistan allows only the import of about 110 items from India through the land route, while it allows the export of only one item, cement, to India by the road route.”
Pakistan should permit all permissible items for trade via the Attari-Wagah route, she added.
The Pakistani delegation, led by Sultan Ahmed Chawla, president, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), interacted with top Indian businessmen and pressed for escalating bilateral trade between the two countries.
Chawla called for removal of non-trade barriers by India and facilitation of movement of people across borders. “We would request that instead of raising issues related to NTBs (non-tariff barriers) in a generalized manner, it would be more useful if specific instances can be brought to our notice, which are found to be specifically discriminatory for Pakistani exports to India,” said Rao.
“There is no discrimination against Pakistani exports because the same standards are being applied for imports from any other country,” she pointed out.
Rao stressed that India and Pakistan have complementarities in their economies which can create a ‘win-win’ situation for all sides. Listing out areas of mutually beneficial cooperation, Rao said: “We only have to seize them by rising above our political differences for the welfare of our two people.”
The Pakistani delegation called on Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma Tuesday. The delegation informed Sharma of the “existing lacunae in the two-way trade and suggested some measures for improvement”, said a statement from the Pakistan high commission Wednesday.
“The minister assured the delegation of removing the impediments in the smooth running of trade activity between the two countries and expressed the hope that the bilateral trade will substantially increase in the years to come,” said the high commission.
The delegation felt that the trade between India and Pakistan could be balanced if the tariff and non-tariff barriers are removed by the Indian side.
They also met Pakistan’s High Commissioner Shahid Malik Tuesday.
This is the first visit by a Pakistani business delegation since the July 15 talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries broke down over a host of issues, including terrorism and Kashmir.
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