Pak wants greater trade but puts conditions on SAFTA

Zee News, India

Pak wants greater trade but puts conditions on SAFTA

Bureau Report

3 May 2007

New Delhi, May 03: Pakistan, which is keen on exporting cement and wheat to India, on Thursday said it is willing to fulfil its SAFTA commitments if the issue of non-tariff barriers are addressed.

"We are aware of the Indian views on the positive list and are willing to discuss the same with the Indian government along with the issues pertaining to non-trade barriers faced by Pakistani exports to India," Pakistani High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik said at a PHD Chamber session here.

Under SAFTA, SAARC countries have to liberalise imports from other members on almost all products barring a small negative list. But Pakistan has allowed imports of only 1,076 items from India.

Malik said India should remove non-tariff barriers so that Pakistan could significantly enhance cement exports to the country facing a severe shortage of the commodity.

"Imports in India are subject to meeting excessive standardisation requirement and procedural formalities. Cement is one such case in point. These work as a detriment to bilateral trade," he said.

The non-compliance of SAFTA by Pakistan is being discussed at the level of experts so that a solution could be found.

Terming the ’Most Favoured Nation’ title as a "misnomer", Malik said even though New Delhi has granted MFN status to Islamabad, which has not returned the favour, the net result is that export from India to Pakistan is three times higher than the imports from neighbouring country.

"This despite your MFN status and we have what we call is a positive list. At some stage it has a political connotation and hopefully we would be able to resolve all these issues," he said.

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