Before giving MFN status, Pakistan seeks 3 agreements with India


As Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma will be arriving along with a large business delegation on February 13, Pakistan plans to sign three confidence-building agreements with India before formally awarding Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to its archrival. Briefing media on the progress on MFN status to India, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, along with Commerce Secretary Zafar Mehmood, said Pakistan wanted to sign three confidence-building agreements, including the Customs Cooperation Agreement, to avoid arbitrary stoppages of goods at each other’s ports; Mutual Recognition Agreement for acceptance of certificates of internationally accredited laboratories; and Redressal of Grievances Agreement in case of any disagreement. Fahim said opening up trade with India would be beneficial for consumes. Giving an example, he said prices of many pharmaceutical products were higher in Pakistan as compared to India, so free trade would lead to improved competitiveness among local producers. However, he said, measures would be taken to protect the local industry. When asked whether the army was on board with the decision to grant MFN status to India, he said all stakeholders were on board, they were kept abreast and decisions were taken with mutual agreement. The commerce secretary said the ministry had kept a neutral approach and sought suggestions from the industry about the negative impact on their products in order to compile the negative list. He said the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) was conducting research on the proposals given by the industry and the list would be finalised in the next few days and would be submitted for the cabinet’s consideration and approval in early February. The final decision on awarding the status would be made after approval from the cabinet, he added.