Cabinet has approved MFN status for India: Fahim

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ISLAMABAD: Federal minister for commerce Makhdoom Amin Fahim has said the federal cabinet has approved granting Most Favoured Nations (MFN) status to India but some industries have expressed their reservations about the ‘devastating impact’ of this move.

“We are making efforts to address their reservations on the issue.” The minister said this when journalists asked him about Islamabad’s backing out of the granting of MFN status to India during a news conference here on Thursday.

The journalists also raised queries about the ownership of a future government of the much-delayed Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2012-15 as the tenure of the PPP government would end in a few weeks. The minister replied that the trade policy had nothing to do with politics. General elections, he said, would be held on time and the new government would pursue policies in the best interest of the country.

Dwelling upon regional trade in the context of India, the minister said that Pakistan would increase its exports to India, which currently stand at $300 million per annum, by up to $1.5 billion in the next three years.

Secretary commerce Munir Qureshi explained on the occasion that exports to India would be increased to Rs27 billion in the first year, Rs31 billion in the second and Rs33 billion in the third year.

Answering another query he said that the trade policy envisaged provision of Rs27 billion subsidies for different initiatives aiming at boosting exports.

Talking about the establishment of the EXIM Bank, he said initially the government would provide Rs1 billion as seed money, gradually increasing the amount to Rs5 billion in five years. The initiative of Land Port Development envisaged in STPF-2012-15, he said, would ensure regional integration in the years ahead.
When asked about filing application for securing GSP Plus from the European Union for market access to Pak products, he said the government is awaiting a response of the trade minister from Brussels and after getting the green signal appropriate steps would be taken in this regard.

To a query about not taking the provinces into confidence on implementation of initiatives taken through the trade policy in the context of the 18th constitutional amendment, he said the provinces were consulted for formulating the trade policy and would be consulted for its effective implementation.

When asked about reservations of the finance ministry on the exports target of $95 billion over the next three years and different initiatives taken by the government for boosting trade, he said he could not answer for any individual but the cabinet as a whole, by sharing collective responsibility, has granted approval to this policy before its announcement.

To another query about the cabinet’s approval of a trade policy within a few minutes, the secretary said they had briefed the cabinet thrice since August 2012 and everybody knew the salient features of this policy so the impression of approving it in haste is not correct.

He said that Free Trade Agreement or Preferential Trade Agreement could not be made part of trade policy, as it is bilateral agreement between two countries and the government would continue finding avenues to boost trade.


Courtesy: The News

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