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SAFTA: India-Pak row continues

August 03, 2006 13:32 IST
In an apparent move to counter India's offensive over Pakistan's non implementation of SAFTA, Islamabad has charged New Delhi with not reducing tariffs on 350 items for itself and other nations falling under the category of Not Least Developed Countries.

Pakistan has taken up its complaint of New Delhi not according tariff concessions with Indian officials on the sidelines of the SAARC Foreign Ministers conference in Dhaka.

"If no positive results come up after the informal bilateral talks in Dhaka on this particular issue, Pakistan would use other options prescribed in SAFTA," Sayed Asif Shah, Pakistan Commerce Secretary was quoted as saying by Pakistan daily The News on Thursday.

Under the SAARC structure, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were categorised as NLDCs, whereas Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan and Nepal were put under the category of Least Developed Countries.

SAFTA worked a different tariff structure for both the categories. The Joint Secretary of Pakistan's Commerce Ministry Shahid Bashir went to Dhaka for this purpose, Asif said.

Referring to the India's complaint of Pakistan not implementing SAFTA provisions, which according to New Delhi made the agreement meaningless, Shah said SAARC Foreign Ministry is not the right forum for it.

A comprehensive mechanism has been prescribed in SAFTA and India should move the Dispute Settlement Board where Pakistan will come up with its own response, he said.

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