As India and Pakistan discuss measures to boost the bilateral trade, Pakistan commerce minister Makhdoom Mohammad Amin Fahim on Monday indicated that the February deadline of shifting to a negative list from a current positive list approach might be missed.
This means that there would be further delay in grant of the the most favoured nation (MFN) status to India by the neighbour.
A negative list which identifies items on which trade will be barred is much more encompassing than a positive list which gives items on which trade is allowed. MFN status implies no special treatment but a lack of negative discrimination.
Pakistan had earlier promised to grant MFN status to India before the end of 2012. It is being considered that once trade gets normalised between the two nations, the bilateral trade can reach $ 10 billion, where currently the trade is $ 2.7 billion, mainly in favour of India.
Fahim, who was addressing the media at the Wagah Attari border after receiving the Indian commerce minister Anand Sharma, on being asked whether this meet will lead to the announcement of a negative list, said ?On this particular issue, the secretaries of commerce of both countries have met twice. They will keep meeting and discussing everything ? we will try?.
However, Fahim also clarified that Pakistan will not set any fresh deadline as ?if we set a new deadline today and tomorrow we slip, it will be not good.? It was in November last year that both the commerce secretaries had met in New Delhi and a fresh deadline to come out with a negative list was set. On being asked by when will Pakistan be able to give MFN status to India, Fahim added, ?Our cabinet has in-principle approved to grant MFN (to India). Now we are moving towards implementing it. It is under process and we are moving fast on this. .. the process takes time. Both sides are discussing.?
Elaborating on the multiple visa entry regime to be implemented by Pakistan Fahim said that Pakistan is working towards this regime for Indian businessman and the discussions were in process. Meanwhile, it is not just Pakistan which is missing the deadlines, but India too. New Delhi had agreed to allow free and easy movement of trucks for trade across the border by February, but this has also been delayed. Commerce minister Anand Sharma said that the new gate will be opened by April this year.