India to be granted MFN with limited negative trade list

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India would be granted Most Favored Nation (MFN) status with a very limited negative list of trade. The list is being prepared in order to safeguard certain industries and sectors. Consumers in Pakistan and India would be the biggest beneficiaries of the current move of trade liberalisation, Tariq Puri, Chief Executive of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) said while addressing a media briefing after an interactive session with the visiting Indian regulators to explain trade regime here on Friday.
The event was attended by representatives of Pakistani business community from all relevant trade associations and Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) including Mian Abrar, President KCCI; Ikhtiar Baig, Chairman Pak Denim; Bashir Jan Muhammad of Gul Ahmed Textiles; Khalil Sattar of K&N, Waheed Ahmed of PFVA among others.
Indian regulators; Mr Rajiv Raizada, Additional Director, Export Inspection Council and Mr Rajeev Kumar Sharma, Deputy Director Technical of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), gave an overview of the Indian import regime and procedures and explained at length food safety, standards and inspection requirements. The meeting in Karachi was the second session of the interaction between Pakistani businessmen and Indian regulators in order to understand and remove Non-Tariff Barriers at the Indian side. The first meeting was held in Lahore between members of Lahore Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Indian delegation.
To resolve NTBs like custom related issues, Puri informed that a “Comprehensive custom cooperation agreement” is also being signed between the two countries during the forthcoming visit of Indian Commerce Minister to Pakistan which is scheduled for February 13, 2012. Indian regulators, he said, have also briefed custom rules and details about VAT, HS codes and others for smooth and speedy clearance of imported goods at ports. A liaison committee is also being formed to resolve custom related issues on both sides.
Indian side, he claimed, has also shown its commitment to ensure transparent system of custom duty and improve the flow of goods. The meeting has also discussed the importance of multiple visa regimes and banking facility for exporters and importers in both countries. He said central banks of India and Pakistan which were working on the issue would open their branches in both countries.
Puri informed that besides other initiatives, the average custom duty which is currently around eight per cent would be reduced to five per cent to encourage bilateral trade. Indian side has also recalled the existing zero rated duty structure for businessmen under the umbrella of SAFTA. He also explained the recent progress being made towards trade normalisation, like; a comprehensive custom agreement is being finalised and which will also have the mechanism for expeditious clearance of cargo; sharing of trade laws; customs valuation; setting up of joint boarder liaison committee. Moreover, an agreement is being finalised to harmonise standards.
TDAP, he said, would also hire consultants to explore trade opportunities in the neighbouring country and their finds would be discussed with the stakeholders in a series of seminars to be held thoughout Pakistan. They will study the potential of various Pakistani products for Indian market and they will also examine tariff structure vis-à-vis of other competitors. In reply to a query he said that all agricultural products, as suggested by representatives, would be opened for trade.

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