Indian exporters to lose $1.9bn after withdrawing Pakistan’s MFN status


ISLAMABAD: Businessmen Panel Secretary General of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Ahmad Jawad has said the attempt of Indian government to withdraw the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) Status for Pakistan will put zero impact on the country.

India on February 16 imposed 200 per cent customs duty on all Pakistani goods originating in or exported from the country regardless of the bilateral trade largely in favour of India, he said while talking to media here on Sunday.

Jawad said the imposition of customs duties by the Indian government couldn’t hit much, but if the Pakistani government imposed the same customs duty on the Indian products then Indian exporters will lose $1.93 billion market which could be a big hit on the Indian economy.

He said Pakistan’s CPEC and other investment projects are itself a pressure on Indian government, that’s why they put blame on us time to time through Pulwama and Pathankot incidents because they want to isolate us economically.

Jawad said that the MFN is a treatment accorded to a trade partner to ensure non-discriminatory trade between two countries vis-a-vis other trade partners. The importance of MFN is shown in the fact that it is the first clause in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Under WTO rules, a member country cannot discriminate between its trade partners.

He said, “If a special status is granted to a trade partner, it must be extended to all members of the WTO, but unfortunately we didn’t see to establish proper trade relations from India in the last years, despite Pakistan’s private sector wanted on equal footing basis and taken up on numerous forums”.

As India granted MFN status to Pakistan in 1996 a year after the formation of WTO but Pakistan didn’t reciprocate the same status however the then Indian government required much in the year of 2009 & 10, he added.

Jawad briefed that the MFN essentially guarantees the most favourable trade conditions between the two countries. These terms include the lowest possible trade tariffs, the least possible trade barriers and very crucial to trade relations– highest import quotas. The disclaimer only requires equal treatment to all Most Favoured Nations, “but yet Pakistan exports to India remained bleak despite given us MFN status from the last twenty-three years”.

He said the till date trade was largely in favour of India. The total volume of India-Pakistan trade has increased marginally to $2.41 billion in 2017-18 as against $2.27 billion in 2016-17. In which Pakistan exports to India is only $480 million.

Jawad also condemned the ‘immature’ Indian media statements that MBS may cut his visit to Pakistan due to Pulwama incident.

The BMP official further said Gwadar Port was offering huge opportunities in terms of regional and global connectivity and had made Pakistan an attractive destination for the whole world. He added that the foreign investors from various countries wanted to cash in on this opportunity and invest in different sectors of Pakistan’s economy, which would provide a win-win situation for them as well as Pakistan, he added.

Jawad said that it was one of the top priorities of Prime Minister Imran Khan to bring foreign investment to the country and enhance trade ties with all potential regions, including the Middle Eastern countries.