Pak MFN Status to India Next Month

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is likely to grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India next month, in an attempt to boost Indo-Pak business to $6-7 billion, Minister of State for Commerce Abbas Khan Afridi told the Pakistani Senate on Thursday.

Afridi’s statement rebuffed media reports that Islamabad may delay awarding MFN status to India as the government was facing pressure from various stakeholders – particularly from industrialists associated with the textile industry in Pakistan. Several lawmakers have also reiterated that the move to grant MFN-status to New Delhi had been delayed so that the government could hold consultations with industries that have expressed their reservations, Express Tribune reported.

Responding to a question, Afridi informed the lawmakers that the government is committed to implementing its decision by next month.

“We want this credit [of granting MFN status to India]. We are heading towards the final stage now,” said Afridi. He, however, explained that “MFN status will be awarded to India by prioritising state interests, taking all stakeholders on board in Pakistan.”

Islamabad has already missed a December 31 deadline to give MFN status to New Delhi as well as to end a negative list regime and trade.

Federal Minister for State Makhdoom Amin Fahim informed the House that positive progress has been made on the issue.

Fahim also clarified that after awarding this status to India, New Delhi will have no excuse against promoting business in the region. New Delhi has been accusing Pakistan that it’s not fulfilling the criteria set by World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“At various multilateral economic forums, India would not be able to use the argument of Pakistan being non-compliant to World Trade Organisation agreements in terms of holding back MFN status from WTO member state,” he said.

The policy of new visa regime between the two nations has already been implemented with three agreements signed in September last year for countering the non-tariff barrier issues being faced by Pakistani exporters, stated the minister in his written reply to the Senate.

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