Pak urges India to remove tariff barriers

Himalayan News Service

Islamabad, April 30:

India will be granted most favoured nation (MFN) status only after it removes all tariff and non-tariff barriers on Pakistani exports, the commerce minister has said. “India will have to remove all such restrictions if it intends to get MFN status from Pakistan,” The News Saturday quoted minister Humayun Akhtar Khan as saying. “As far as Pakistan is concerned, we have not put unnecessary tariff and non-tariff curbs on Indian exports,” he told the newspaper. India-Pakistan trade talks under the composite dialogue process might be held here in early June, he added. Khan contended that India might have granted MFN status to Pakistan but exports from here are subject to a number of tariff and non-tariff barriers. Due to this, Pakistani exports to India were not picking up and the balance of trade between the two countries had not improved.

Even as the MFN issue awaited resolution, it was announced here earlier this week that a large delegation of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) would visit Pakistan on May 23-29 to explore the possibilities of establishing joint ventures and increasing trade between the countries. FICCI president Onkar Kanwar will lead the delegation, which will consist of leading businessmen and industrialists. The delegation will meet business leaders in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore. The visit is being viewed as an immediate follow up to president Pervez Musharraf’s discussions during his visit to India on April 16-18. The joint statement issued after the visit had specifically mentioned the need for promoting India-Pakistan socio-economic relations, among other things.

Four decisions on the economic front were taken after talks between Musharraf and Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh. These were: creation of a Joint Economic Commission, reviving the Joint Business Council, a meeting of the petroleum ministers to carry forward proposals for trans-national gas pipeline from Iran and Central Asia, and to permit trade through road transport. “The visit of the Indian delegation will open new avenues for promotion of bilateral trade and accelerate the process of building up economic relations between the two countries,” said Abdul Waheed Jan, chief of the Islamabad Stock Exchange. He had visited India last month to explore the possibilities of trading in stock markets. The Indian delegation will include representatives from a broad spectrum of industries. These include tyres, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and paints, hospitality, tourism, amusement park equipment, processed food products and packaged drinks, herbal extracts and cosmetics, areca-nut, betel-nut and more.