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Pakistan should grant NDMA status to India: Assocham

The current annual trade volume between Pakistan and India is around USD 3 billion, which could increase manifold.

By: Press Trust of India | New Delhi |
March 2, 2015 4:55:31 pm

Ahead of Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s visit to Pakistan on Tuesday, industry body Assocham Monday pitched for easing of visa restrictions and greater market access to facilitate bilateral trade.

In order to enhance bilateral trade, India and Pakistan last year agreed on a non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) programme in place of the MFN regime, besides opening up Wagah-Attari border round the clock.

“Pakistan should consider NDMA status for India, open additional border posts, improve inadequate land transport connectivity. There is need to prune the list of sensitive items, speed up the process of tariff reduction, easing of non tariff barriers, mutual recognition of standards,” Assocham said.

The industry body also stressed on easing the visa restrictions by both the nations.

Jaishankar will travel to Pakistan on March 3.

“If there is to be a thaw in Pakistan-India relations, trade is the best place to start. Stronger trade ties would pave the way for the resolution of other issues as well,” Assocham said.

India had granted most favoured nation (MFN) status to Pakistan in 1996 but the neighbouring country has not yet reciprocated in the same manner.

Instead of granting MFN status, Pakistan gradually increased the number of items permissible for trade with India and now maintains a ‘negative list’ of 1,209 items which may not be legally imported from India into Pakistan.

“Pakistan has to abolish the negative list of 1,209 tradeable items. Abolishing the list of items that cannot be imported from India would be a big step towards the grant of NDMA (Non-Discriminatory Market Access) status to India,” Assocham said.

The current annual trade volume between Pakistan and India is around USD 3 billion, which could increase manifold in the long run under an open trade regime.

Major sectors included in the negative list of Pakistan are auto, steel, paper & boards, plastics, textiles, electrical machinery and pharmaceuticals.

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