Pakistan To Implement Non-Discriminatory Trade Regime with India
Pakistan agreed to take immediate steps to implement a non-discriminatory trade regime with India even as the two sides announced they would work on steps to boost trade in electricity and petroleum products, as part of efforts to use economic engagement to build trust.
After two-day talks between commerce secretaries of India and Pakistan, a joint statement said the two sides would set up two groups of experts to examine the "feasibility, scope and modalities" for a new initiative to enable trade in electricity and to "initiate and substantially expand trade in all types of petroleum products".
The group on electricity trade will be set up by the end of June and it will hold its first meeting by October to study issues like suitable sites and routes for transmission lines, funding mechanisms and related matters.
The group on petroleum products will be set up by 15th June and will discuss trade arrangements, building of cross- border pipelines and use or road or rail routes, including the Munabao-Khokrapar route. It will hold its first meeting before September.
During the talks, Islamabadsaid it would take "immediate necessary steps to ensure that non-discriminatory trade regime is operationalised at the earliest".
Pakistanrecognized that the grant of Most Favoured Nation status to Indiawill help in expanding bilateral trade and both sides agreed to remove non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and other "restrictive practices" that hamper commerce, the joint statement said.
The Pakistani side has set in motion the consultative process and information on reservations and objections is being collected from all stakeholders, including trade lobbies and manufacturers, to replace the current 'positive list' with a 'negative list', Pakistans Commerce Secretary Zafar Mahmood told the media at the conclusion of his talks with his Indian counterpart Rahul Khullar.
The joint statement said this process will be completed by October.
While Indiaallows import of goods from Pakistanon all but a few items in the negative list, it is other way round for Islamabad.
Pakistan disallows import from Indiaon all but those listed in the positive list.
Mahmood dismissed the perception that the granting of MFN status to Indiawas linked to the resolution of the Kashmirdispute.
"The chambers have not raised any objection to the grant of MFN status to India provided Indialowers non-tariff barriers," he said.
Speaking to Indian journalists, Khullar said the implementation of a non-discriminatory regime was required to fulfill Pakistansobligations under the WTO and South Asian Free Trade Area pact.