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Pakistan told to give non-discriminatory access to Indian goods
Friday November 15, 2013 6:58 PM, IANS

Pakistan must provide non-discriminatory access to Indian goods to increase two-way trade, an official said here Friday.

Arvind Mehta, joint secretary in the ministry of commerce and industry, said a road map for enhancing trade between India and Pakistan has been prepared, but the desired result is not being achieved due to delay in according the Most Favoured Nation status to India.

Pakistan is also losing out to Bangladesh when it comes to enhancing trade with India.

"If Pakistan grants non-discriminatory access to India, India will provide a reciprocal market access to Pakistan at a 0-5 percent duty rate, similar to what is being given to Bangladesh," Mehta said at an event organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here.

"Pakistan should recognise that by delaying non-discriminatory access to India, it was losing out to Bangladesh," he said.

Mehta said providing non-discriminatory access to Indian goods in Pakistan was essential to strengthen trade ties between the two countries.

He said dialogue process under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) should be "uninterruptible and irreversible" and duties by both the countries on 98 percent of the items should be brought down to 0-5 percent level.

India granted MFN status to Pakistan in 1996 and has been asking it to reciprocate and end the discriminatory practice, termed under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. As per the WTO norms member countries are required to provide this status on a reciprocal basis.

Vikramjit Singh Sahney, president, SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said political will needed from both sides to take the trade relations to the next level.

"It would also be in the interest of business communities on both sides to make the best possible use of the growing economic opportunities," Sahney said.

"As a business community we must respond and rise to the occasion. In that context, there are areas of action that need our attention," he said.

Sahney, who is also a senior executive committee member of FICCI, said there is a lack of awareness in terms of each other's product offerings and steps should be taken to bridge the information gap.

He said FICCI will organise the second edition of "India Show" in Lahore Feb 14-16, 2014, that would help bridge the information gap.

A Pakistani business delegation led by FPCCI president Zubair Ahmed Malik is currently visiting India.

FICCI organised a roundtable meeting with visiting members of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).

Addressing the event, Malik said Pakistan's business people were keen to strengthen relations with India and enhance trade.

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