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Pak may soon grant MFN status to India

August 08, 2014 21:56 IST

Pakistani industry on Friday expressed hope that Islamabad would soon grant the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India as the formalities on the matter have already been completed.

"All the home work has been completed and formalities have been done so I think it is only the matter of time when the two governments meet and right forum is there. So I do not think that is an issue," Pakistan Co-chair for India Pakistan Joint Business Forum (IPJBF) Syed Yawar Ali said.

He was speaking with reporters after the fourth meeting of the IPJBF.

India granted the MFN status to Pakistan in 1996 but Pakistan is yet to reciprocate to that. Grant of status to India would help in further boosting trade between the countries.

Pakistan has decided to postpone grant of Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) status to India due to lack of consensus at home.

NDMA is a nomenclature chosen by Pakistan to avoid political ramifications at home of giving India MFN status.

Ali also said that the Pakistani business community has already asked the government to grant the status to India.

He said that after the meeting of foreign secretaries of the two governments, commerce secretaries too are also expected to deliberate on various trade related issues.

"One cannot give date but I think it will be clear after the foreign secretaries meeting," he added.

Further, he supported India's effort in protecting the interest of poor farmers in the WTO.

"We have 60 per cent people who are in agriculture sector and the US and EU have only 2 per cent but yet they protect them very vigorously so I would support India's WTO effort here," he said.

The IPJBF has constituted 10 task forces on sectors, including agriculture, automobiles, engineering and IT. They will submit their recommendations to their respective governments to increase bilateral trade and investment.

On banking sector, Ali said that banks of the two nations would open branches in the other country but before that there is an urgent need to formalise trade transactions.

"How the money has to flow? Today that is flowing through a difficult route so first we want to ease that first and then move towards bank branches," he said.

About auto sector, Indian-co-chair of IPJBF Sunil Kant Munjal said that the task force on the sector has made recommendations to prune negative list of Pakistani imports from India to exclude auto components.

"They are importing from other countries and they would like to import from India also. From Indian side, we would like to export raw material which Pakistani auto sector can use," Munjal said.

Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan touched $2.6 billion in 2012-13.

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