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Implement SAFTA in letter and spirit: Pakistani lawmaker

Thursday September 08, 2011 05:50:01 PM, IANS

New Delhi: The South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) should be implemented in letter and spirit to ensure greater economic integration among south Asian countries, a Pakistani lawmaker said here Thursday.

"There is a need to implement SAFTA in letter and spirit to achieve the ideal of a South Asia Economic Union," Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Farzana Raja said at the first meeting of South Asia Forum here.

Raja, who holds the status of federal minister as chairperson of Benazir Income Support Programme, emphasised on the need for addressing the issue of the sensitive list of goods that is negatively affecting the trade in the region, especially bilateral trade between India and Pakistan.

Under the conventions of SAFTA, member countries are required to clearly spell out a list of goods that it would not want to trade.

Although Pakistan has agreed in principle to move from "positive list" to "negative list" trade regime with India, as required under the conventions of SAFTA, it has not implemented it.

Pakistan maintains a "positive list" of 1,945 items which are allowed to be imported from India. Under SAFTA, Pakistan operates a sensitive list (negative list) of 1,169 items.

New Delhi has asked Islamabad to prepare the negative list of items that it does not want to import from India.

Raja, who is heading a high level Pakistani delegation at the forum, said such issues were hindering the flow of trade in the region.

"We should address the issues impeding intra-regional trade including the issues of sensitive list, rules of origin, technical assistance to least developed countries (LDCs) and mechanism for compensation of revenue loss to LDCs due to trade liberalisation programme," she said.



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