Karachi: The Secretary Commerce, Zafar Mahmood has said that the government would approach India to remove non tariff barriers (NTBs) on Pakistan so that trade relations between the two neighbouring countries would be normalized in real terms.
Addressing as a chief guest at dinner hosted by President, India-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IPCCI), S M Muneer, Mahmood said that government has approved a negative list of 1,209 banned items, which will allow trade in all other goods with India, but also sanctioned the phasing out of the negative list in the next ten months.
The newly elected President, FPCCI, A Q Sherani, Vice President, Shakeel Dhingra, President, Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF) Mian Zahid Hussain, KATI Chairman Ehtesham Uddin and a number of trade and industry leaders attended the reception.
At present, Pakistan maintains a positive list of 1,945 items that are allowed to be traded between the two countries. The switch from a positive to a negative list has long been a hurdle to freeing up trade between the two.
He said that perhaps Pakistan is the only country which has country specific list of items for trade and it is allowed as per the WTO.
He said that the issue of granting MFN status to India was decided after several meetings with the business community and that he travelled to Karachi to have meetings with the stakeholders and almost all the business community in Pakistan favoured this move.
He said that after consultations with the industry, it was proposed to add 573 items into the commerce ministry’s list.
Under the World Trade Organisation rules, no state can restrict trade with any other state, but Pakistan has added Annexure G in its trade policy that allows trade with India in limited items. India too has banned investment by Pakistani firms.
In the next 10 months, the local industries would be ready to compete with their Indian counterparts, he hoped.
The Chief Executive, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) Tariq Iqbal Puri said on this occasion that the normalization of trade with India regional trade is major breakthrough in boosting regional trade and credit goes to Secretary Commerce.
He said that Zafar Mahmood led his team excellently. He said that Secretary Commerce has taken all the business community into confidence and then initiated the process of liberalizing the trade with India. He hoped that Pakistani exporters would now be able to penetrate into Indian market and make big exports.
President IPCCI S M Muneer said that Secretary Commerce has handled the MFN issue brilliantly and finally both the governments reached to an accord. He said that business community had various reservations in this regards and Zafar Mahmood removed all their doubts in this regard. He has drawn the attention of the government towards the massive smuggling of livestock which is causing losses to the tune of billions of rupees to the national exchequer.
He said that exporters were facing many problems and crisis while smuggling and export of livestock is also ruining the leather industry. He hoped that normalizing the trade with India would boost regional trade and trade and industry fully exploit the vast Indian market. PBIF Chief Mian Zahid Hussain said that Pakistan’s trade and industry is looking forward to exploit Indian market and increase Pakistan’s share in regional trade. He said that government while opening up its market to India should protect its own industry by taking safeguard measures. He paid rich tributes to Zafar Mahmood and Tariq Puri for the untiring efforts to promote Pakistan’s exports.
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