Pakistan likely to award MFN status to India soon

Islamabad, March 20: The Pakistan government is likely to give India the status of most favoured nation (MFN) within a few days, media reported.

“India has given clear indication to accept Pakistan’s two main demands of accommodating exportable items and removing additional duties within six months, which has paved the way for Islamabad to grant non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) status to New Delhi,” a senior commerce ministry official was quoted as saying by The Nation newspaper Thursday.

“The current deal between the two countries on MFN is totally in Pakistan’s favour,” he said explaining that Pakistan would have to wait till 2016 if the Indian government did not sign the deal.

He admitted that bilateral trade was currently favouring India as Pakistan’s exports were only $350 million against imports of $1.8 billion.

The decision to grant the MFN/NDMA status to India will benefit the economy by up to Pakistani Rs.600 billion ($6.1 billion).

India granted MFN/NDMA status to Pakistan in 1996 with the non-tariff barriers remaining intact on Pakistani exports. This way neither of the two countries made much progress.

However, industries like automobiles and pharmaceutical as well as farmers have shown serious concern over granting the MFN/NDMA status to India. They have announced that they will stage a protest at the Wagah Border from March 31 for an indefinite period.

Khalid Mahmood Khokhar, president of Pakistan Kisan Ittehad, said India already has control over the waters flowing into Pakistan, now it wants control over agriculture. The farmers will not let this happen, he added.