India hopes Pakistan will grant MFN status by Dec end

New Delhi: India on Wednesday expressed hope that Pakistan will honour its assurance of granting it MFN status and further dismantling the trade barriers between the countries.

"It (MFN) is given by all member countries of the WTO to each other. Since India and Pakistan both are members, we have given the MFN status. I am sure Pakistan will do that and honour the assurance that has been given," India's Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters here.

In March, Pakistan had moved to a negative list regime for trade from the so positive list regime. This has opened Pakistani market for about 7,000 Indian goods against about 2,000 earlier.

The neighbouring country has said that it would remove the negative list, which contains 1,209 items, by December end — technically which would mean grant of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India.

"Earlier only 18 per cent tariff lines were tradeable. It got reversed and now 82 per cent of the total tariff lines are tradeable," he said.

Last week, Pakistani commerce minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim had spoken to Sharma on telephone on the issue.

"Fahim made a telephonic call to me to discuss this matter reaffirming Pakistan's commitment to move towards dismantling of the negative list altogether," he said.

He said that Commerce Secretaries of both the sides are in regular dialogue. Sharma said dismantling of negative list in the WTO terminology means grant of MFN status.

The bilateral trade between the countries stood at about USD 2 billion 2011-12.