End of negative list means grant of MFN status: Sabharwal

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KARACHI: Pakistan’s commitment to phase out the negative list governing trade with India by the end of this month will not only be in compliance with the World Trade Organization (WTO) but also impliedly confers Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status on the latter, Sharat Sabharwal, High Commissioner of India, said on Wednesday. “The Pakistani government has agreed in principle to give MFN status to India,” he said at a meeting with the members of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). “Pakistan has committed to expunge 1,209 items from the negative list, which itself means the grant of MFN status to India,” he said.

Sabharwal said that the process of trade liberalisation has been initiated and under the new regime, both countries will bring down the duty rate as per the South Asian Free Trade Agreement. India will allow access to Pakistani products to its markets at a maximum of five percent duty by April 2013. And, Pakistan is to do so in the next five years, he added.

Sabharwal stressed the need of improving intra-regional trade and lamented that the SAARC region had very low trade volumes of about five percent within member countries. “By contrast, the European Union has 65 percent and Asian countries have 25 percent.”

According to Sabharwal, regional countries have tremendous opportunities due to growing uncertainties in world economies. “India registered 6-8 percent GDP growth over the last few years and even the Pakistan economy has the potential to grow at a faster rate.”

Replying a query raised over the insecurity expressed by various Pakistani industries regarding Pak-India trade, Sabharwal said that WTO members had access to remedies available under WTO rules. He said that the central banks of both the countries were in the process of finalising formalities regarding the opening of bank branches in each other’s country.

“The confidence level between the two nations is rising and the Indian High Commission is receiving a large number of visa requests. The time taken to process these visas is also normal but in order to fast-track the issuance of business visas, businessmen should send details regarding their visitors in advance,” said Sabharwal.

Earlier, Fazal Qadir Sherani, president, FPCCI lauded the role of Indian high commission for bringing both the countries closer. He praised the role of outgoing commercial counsellor, Arvind Sexena. Tariq Sayeed, former FPCCI president propose that business visa should be facilitated.


Courtesy: The News

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