Pakistan?s commerce secretary Zafar Mahmood tells FE?s Timsy Jaipuria that both the nations are committed to increasing the bilateral trade and Pakistan will soon allow trade to take place with a very limited negative list. He also said that multiple entry visa regime will be relaxed. Excerpts:
How did talks with Indian commerce secretary regarding trade normalisation go?
Our meeting was really good. We are happy the way India has recieved us with warmth. We reviewed the agenda that we had set in the fifth round of talks in Islamabad. Though a few things have not been worked upon but there’s progress on the some so we have set some fresh deadlines and we are hopefull of meeting them.
What is the progress on the list of the items in Indian and Pakistan can trade in?
There are 8,000 tariff lines upon which trade can take place out of which we allow 1,946 items to be traded. We have expressed commitment on the fact that we are moving towards trade normalisation with our neighbour and soon we will announce some modifications.
How soon will it be and what sort of modification are you hinting at?
We are in consultation process with our industry and hopefully by February 2012 we shall be able to move to a negative list from a current positive list. In this negative list we are expecting to relax as many items as possible. There might be a few items in which Pakistan cannot give relaxations but I asure you that the negative list which will now come will be in a few hundreds only.
By when do we see Pakistan according MFN status to India? There are apprehensions that Pakistan has backtracked on its statement of according the MFN status.
We have a clear mandate from our government to take the trade normalisation talks further which we are doing. MFN would be the culmination of it but as of now we are concentrating on moving to a negative list and once that is there we will further work on a complete phasing out of the negative list, which will lead to MFN.