Snehesh Alex Philip
Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday said it will strike a liberalized trade deal with India only after a new government takes over following the Lok Sabha elections.
The PML-N government here has put off a cabinet meeting scheduled for Friday that would have discussed among other things the long-pending NDMA (non-discriminatory market access) status to India to boost bilateral trade ties.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Pervaiz Rashid said one of the reasons for postponement was that all cabinet members were not available for the meeting.
India is going for elections in May, and the PML-N government would now strike a trade deal with the new government, he was quoted as saying by the Dawn daily.
Sources told PTI that the cabinet meeting on the issue will now take place in “couple of weeks”.
Commerce Ministry spokesman Muhammad Ashraf said that the cabinet was scheduled to discuss, among other things, matters related to trade with India during the meeting.
“The Ministry always remains prepared and provides professional input to the cabinet whenever a matter related to trade is to be discussed in the cabinet,” Ashraf said.
The cabinet meeting was to take two important decisions regarding trade with India—abolishing the negative list of tradable items (1,209 items) and allowing import of more than 7,000 items via Wagha border. Currently, only 138 items are importable from India via this route.
NDMA is a nomenclature chosen by the Pakistan government to avoid political ramifications at home of giving India the most-favoured nation (MFN) status.
Information Minister had said earlier this week that Pakistan will deliver on promises made to India regarding normalisation of bilateral trade ties.
“The previous PPP government made certain promises to India on trade and we will deliver on these promises. The promises were made by Pakistan government and we are not promising anything extra,” Rashid had told reporters.
A special government panel chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has already decided to ask the federal cabinet to approve a fresh roadmap for granting NDMA status to India.
India has agreed to provide a level playing field to Pakistani traders and will give tariff concession on various products pertaining to strong sectors such as textile, cement, surgical instruments from here.—PTI