Free Press Journal

Pak may extend Non-Discriminatory mkt access to India by March


Islamabad: Pakistan is likely to extend Non-Discriminatory Market Access to India by the end of this month which would give a huge boost to bilateral trade ties, a media report today said.

Pakistan would get maximum tariff concessions for its export-oriented industry and in return will extend NDMA to India when this agreement is announced.

“In a major development, Pakistan will extend MFN status to India by the end of March,” The News daily reported.

Asked for details, a senior official of the Commerce Ministry here told PTI, “This is an ongoing issue. Both sides are on good talking terms.”

A statement issued later by the Ministry said the two countries are discussing ways and means to increase mutually beneficial trade through NDMA on reciprocal basis.

It clarified that MFN status is no longer on the table.

NDMA is a nomenclature chosen by the Pakistan government to avoid political ramifications at home of giving India the most-favoured nation (MFN) status.

“The Ministry of Commerce, in its negotiations with India, is trying to ensure that Pakistan’s exports to India are facilitated. In this context, the effort is to persuade India to reduce tariffs on principal items of Pakistan’s export interest as well as reducing and eliminating Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs) for Pakistani exporters,” The Commerce Ministry statement said.

The Ministry has in recent weeks held intensive consultative sessions with trade organisations, Chambers of Commerce and Industry across Pakistan, and representatives of domestic industry including the agriculture, automobile, pharmaceutical, and textile sectors.

“These consultations are focused on addressing the apprehensions of sensitive sectors of Pakistan’s domestic industry vis-a-vis increased Indian imports as a result of trade liberalisation.

“It is agreed generally that trade liberalisation between the two neighboring countries will result in significant gains for Pakistan’s economy and export sector,” the statement said.

A recent meeting chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had agreed to present the proposals before the Federal cabinet for a final approval.

India has agreed to provide a level playing field to Pakistani traders and will give tariff concession on various products pertaining to strong sectors such as textile, cement, surgical instruments from here.

Top officials in the Commerce Ministry here told the daily that the military is on board and under the deal India will not be given transit facility for its goods to have access to markets in Afghanistan and other Central Asian States.

The officials said that after the trade deal gets done, both the countries would trade 8,000 items in total. If the deal is inked, the officials argued, then Pakistan will easily reach out to the biggest market of over 1 billion people and India will have access to 200 million people.