'Pakistan ready to negotiate negative list with India once dialogue begins'

Finance minister hopeful of good trade relations with neighbouring county.


APP July 17, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is ready to negotiate with India to minimise the negative list -- an agreement in which countries specifically list which products or services they will maintain trade barriers on -- once composite dialogue between the two countries starts on all subjects, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said on Thursday.     

"Once the composite dialogue with India starts on all subjects, including Kashmir, we will be ready to negotiate with them to minimise the negative list," said Dar in an exclusive interview with Arab News.

He said, "Non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) is the new terminology used between us. We will try to reduce the negative list to a bare minimum."

Dar said that the government has a very clear plan of achieving regional peace, regional trade connectivity and regional promotion of business and investment.

Pakistan is working with China to make an economic corridor which will reduce the distance from China to Gwadar by half.

It is also working with Afghanistan and Tajikistan for the CASA-1000 electricity transmission line, he said.

Regarding India, the finance minister said, "We worked with the previous (Indian) government. We want to ease visa restrictions for both countries' businessmen, visitors, tourists, and we want to expand trade between both countries."

Pakistan's trade with India is reasonable but it can be expanded further, he added.

Dar said that he, personally, saw a lot of potential in Pakistan's relations with India "but that depends on how India moves."

He said Pakistan was, unfortunately, dealing with terrorism, and added that the menace needed to be jointly handled.

"We are working very hard and have suffered the most; [we] lost $103 billion because of terrorism post 9/11, due to which our economy suffered the most,” he said.

“We have lost more than 40,000 people in the last decade, including almost 5,000 soldiers and [we] have paid [a heavy] price for terrorism", he added.

In response to a question on the suspension of flights to Pakistan by foreign airlines, Dar said, "What has happened in Peshawar recently is unfortunate. Once we sort out things, we are sure foreign airlines will resume flights."

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