Thawing relations: Pakistan ready to negotiate negative trade list with India

Will happen once dialogue starts on all subjects including Kashmir, says Dar.

APP July 17, 2014


In efforts to normalise trade, Pakistan is ready to negotiate the negative trade list with India.

In Pakistan’s negative list, items are included that the country will not import from India. Similarly, India’s negative list includes those items that it will not import from Pakistan.

“The negotiation will begin once the composite dialogue between the two countries starts on all subjects, including Kashmir,” said Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in an interview with Arab News.

He said that Non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) is the new terminology used between the two countries.

“We will try to reduce the negative list to bare minimum,” Dar said.

The finance minister said that the government has a very clear plan as it wants regional peace, trade connectivity and promotion of business and investment.

“We have worked with the previous Indian government and we want to ease visa restrictions for businessmen, visitors, tourists,” he said. “We want to expand the trade between the two countries.”

Pakistan’s trade with India is reasonable but it can be expanded further, the finance minister remarked. Dar said he personally saw potential in Pakistan’s relations with India, “but that depends on how India moves.”

On the other hand, Pakistan is working with China to make an economic corridor, which will reduce the distance to half from China to Gwadar and also cut the freight costs to half.

The country is also working with Afghanistan and Tajikistan for the CASA-1000 electricity transmission line.

With regards to terrorism he said “we are working very hard to combat the problem, we have lost $103 billion due to terrorism and our economy has suffered the most.”

He added that the numbers of lives lost are more than 40,000 people in the last one decade, including almost 5,000 soldiers. “Pakistan has paid the heaviest price for terrorism,” he added.

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 the foreign airlines will resume flights.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2014.

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iHope | 7 years ago | Reply

I hope Pakistan think thru the losses it face by giving one-way trade concessions to The Master Negotiator India. We should take as much time as possible. Because once we open the Flood Gates to cheap Indian products, there will be no stopping, until we totally destroy out local market. Good Luck.

Ratnam | 7 years ago | Reply

How many years has this charade been playing out, and will it ever end? For many years the term MFN (Most Favored Nation) caused the Pakistani government and the army to go into a rash. Then in an attempt to get rid of the allergic term "MFN", the Pakistani government changed it to NDMA, made noises about implementing it, and then it got cold feet and backed off when the army disapproved of it. Now we are told that the government is ready to restart negotiations, but only when all other issues are also laid on the table, including Kashmir. Which, as everyone knows, is a non-starter with India. So what is the purpose of this pointless and silly game that the Pakistani government has been playing ever since India gave MFN status to Pakistan in 1995?

The answer is simple. Pakistan has no intention of negotiating the negative list. This is a transparent charade being played out for the benefit of the IMF which insisted that MFN/NDMA status be granted to India as part of the $6.6 Billion bailout (and even during earlier bailouts). Pakistan wants the IMF funds, but it does not want to give MFN status to India. So it makes the appropriate noises to please the IMF, but makes sure that the deal will be scuttled by tagging Kashmir on to it, or any other non-starter. After which the Pakistani government wrings its hands helplessly and knocks India for being the villain of the piece.

This is the reason why India does not react to the MFN issue any more (no Indian newspapers carry such pronouncements by Pakistan). It knows that this is a meaningless game and that such routine statements lack credibility. The tragedy is that Pakistan has more to gain than India by removing the negative list. The projected volume of trade with Pakistan is too small to make a dent on the Indian economy (its global trade exceeds Pakistan's GDP). So India is indifferent and can wait for it to be implemented. That is, whenever Pakistan is ready, if ever.

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