Pak notifies negative list for trade with India

Islamabad: The Pakistan government today issued a notification for switching over to a negative list regime for trade with India, under which the import of only 1,209 Indian products will be barred. The Commerce Ministry issued the Statutory Regulatory Order for trade with India under the negative list regime, officials said.

According to the notification, a total of 1,209 items have been included in the negative list and will not be importable from India. Of the importable items from India, 137 products can be brought in from India through the Wagah land border crossing. Major items included in the list of items importable through Wagah are livestock, vegetables and newsprint in rolls or sheets.

Manufacturers can import raw materials, except basic materials that are locally manufactured, and packing material needed for pharmaceutical products once they are approved by the Director General of Health, officials said. The import of vaccines will be allowed only from Indian plants that have been approved by the World Health Organisation. Till now, Pakistan traded with India under a positive list regime that allowed the import of less than 2,000 items. The import Indian products through other countries increased the cost of items in the local market, officials said.

Finalising the negative list will help to formally start trade between both countries, which will be beneficial for the people of India and Pakistan, an official said. Trade with India under the negative list regime was allowed only to protect Pakistani industry and the negative list will be phased out by December 31, 2012, said the official who did not want to be named.

The Pakistan government will ensure the removal of "non-tariff barriers" and provision of free access for Pakistani products to Indian markets before phasing out the negative list, officials said. The government had earlier indicated that the phasing out of the negative list will automatically lead to the grant of Most Favoured Nation-status to India by the beginning of next year.