India welcomes Pak switch to negative list for trade

New Delhi: India today welcomed Pakistan`s decision to switch to the negative list approach for trade with it, saying Islamabad is moving in the "right direction" and hoped that this will take practical shape by the year-end.

"Pakistan moving in the right direction in terms of bringing economic content into the political relationship." This was announced by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan immediately after their Cabinet took a decision of providing the Most Favoured Nation status to India.

"And now they have followed up and we are hoping that by December of this year, this will take practical shape. We welcome this idea of removing certain items from negative and this would certainly help in strengthening our bilateral relationship. I would like to thank government of Pakistan for it," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said when asked about Pakistan`s decision on easing trade regulations.

After considerable internal indecisiveness leading to confusing statements over the issue, Pakistan government yesterday approved the switch-over to a negative list regime for trade with India, paving the way for granting Most Favoured Nation status by year-end.

A meeting of the cabinet chaired by Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani approved introduction of a negative list of 1,209 items that cannot be exported from India. This decision would mean that India can export 6,800 items against 1,950 at present.