India asks Pakistan to come out with negative list of imports

India asks Pakistan to come out with negative list of imports

"Most important factors to my mind to improve the economic cooperations between our two nations ... replacement of existing positive list by negative list of goods beyond which it (Pakistan) would permit imports from India," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at the Indo-Pak business meet organised by CII, the 'Times of India' and Jang Group.

At present, Pakistan has a positive list of items of imports from India. This creates a major problem for bilateral trade since it becomes difficult to identify items in which Indian exports are not allowed.

The Pakistan's positive list of imported items from India has been substantially expanded to 1,934 items in September 2009 from 773 in July 2006.

Mukherjee said Pakistan has not implemented the provisions of maintaining the negative list despite ratification of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).

The Finance Minister also called for liberalisation of the trade regime in the two countries, improvement in communication and free movement of goods between the two countries for expansion of bilateral trade.

Pakistan currently allows India to export items like meat, edible oil, cereals, tobacco, chemicals, fertilisers, leather, cotton, silk, coffee, tea and oilseeds.

However, India has given most favoured nations (MFN) status to Pakistan. MFN status means that the country concerned will not be discriminated against other trading partners.

Mukherjee said bilateral trade between India and Pakistan, benefited from composite dialogue process, grew by 550 per cent between 2003-04 and 2007-08 to USD 2,248.5 million.

However, it decreased 19.1 per cent to USD 1,810 million during 2008-09, when Indian exports decreased, but imports increased, he added.

Being neighbours, India and Pakistan have tremendous potential to increase bilateral trade, the Finance Minister said.

Mukherjee said South Asia is the least integrated region, compared to others such as East Asia, Latin America, Central Asia, Middle East, North Africa and Sub-Sahara.

He said regional cooperation in South Asia is a win-win situation that is beneficial for the entire region.

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