India, Pakistan need to work on tariff lines: Envoy
The Dollar Business Bureau Pakistan’s High Commissioner in India, Abdul Basit, on Wednesday, stated that India and Pakistan need to work on improving non-trade barriers, in order to ease their bilateral trade. Speaking to media at an event organised by the MCC Chamber of Commerce, the official also stated that India and Pakistan should narrow down the list of sensitive items that are facing trade challenges between the two countries. In this regard, Abdul Basit informed that there are totally 1,209 tariff lines, under which the products are defined at higher levels for the purpose of setting import duties, which India cannot export to Pakistan, under Pakistan’s sensitive list. On the other hand, under the sensitive items list on India’s side, Pakistan cannot export 614 items to India, he added. In this regard, the Pakistan High Commissioner felt that there is a need for both the economies to bring down the sensitive tradable items list to 100 on both sides, as allowed under South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), for an easier flow of trade. However, Pakistan is currently allowing 137 items under imports from India through land-route via Wagah border, he added. While mentioning that the private sector of both the countries was making efforts to promote bilateral trade, the Pakistan envoy informed that the same sector is also working very hard to come up with solutions for trade issues concerned with sensitive items, SAFTA, among others. Further highlighting the role of Pakistan India Joint Business Forum (PIFBF) in facilitation of cross-border trade, Abdul Basit informed that the PIJBF has already established ten task forces in ten different fields and are also likely to submit their recommendations for discussions between the two countries. On the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, the official was quoted to have said, that the project could be revived if Iran could come to an agreement on the nuclear issue with six global powers. Over the issue of according the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India, which has been pending, the Pakistan official informed that they were informally conveyed to wait for the new government to take over in May. Earlier on the issue of providing MFN status to India, Pakistan had announced that the MFN status would mean a balanced trade and in this regard, the announcement said, ‘Pakistan was ready to give Non-Discriminatory Market Access to India in place of MFN status.’
This article was published on March 19, 2015.