Pakistan is likely to grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India next month, Minister of State for Commerce Abbas Khan Afridi told the Senate in Islamabad. Afridi’s statement rebuffed media reports that the government may delay awarding MFN status to India as the government was facing pressure from various stakeholders, particularly from industrialists associated with the textile industry in Pakistan. Religious extremist groups and a section of the conservative media have also opposed the move, reports the Tribune.
Islamabad has already missed a December 31 deadline to give MFN status to New Delhi as well as to end a negative list regime and trade.
Responding to a question posed by Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Senator Najma Hameed, Afridi informed the lawmakers that the government is committed to implementing its decision by next month.
“We want this credit (of granting MFN status to India). We are heading towards the final stage now,” said Afridi. He, however, explained that “The MFN status will be awarded to India by prioritising state interests, taking all stakeholders on board in Pakistan.”
Senator Hameed had sought the progress made to grant MFN status to India as well as the benefits that Pakistan wanted to achieve after awarding this new status to India. Federal Minister for Commerce Makhdoom Amin Fahim informed the House that positive progress has been made on the issue.
Fahim also clarified that after awarding this status to India, New Delhi will have no excuse against promoting business in the region. New Delhi has been accusing Pakistan that it’s not fulfilling the criteria set by World Trade Organisation (WTO).
“At various multilateral economic forums, India would not be able to use the argument of Pakistan being non-compliant to World Trade Organisation agreements in terms of holding back MFN status from WTO member state,” he said. The policy of new visa regime between the two nations has already been implemented with three agreements signed in September last year for countering the non-tariff barrier issues being faced by Pakistani exporters.