‘Pak not to grant MFN status to India’

GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN
RIYADH: Pakistan is “no longer” considering India for most-favoured nation (MFN) status, said Pakistani Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastagir Khan here on Saturday.
Khan, however, said that Pakistan and India have agreed to work together and boost commercial relations by giving non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) status to each other.
“Islamabad will not give MFN status to India. We don’t talk about MFN anymore,” Khan told Arab News.
Referring to the commercial relations with India, the Pakistani minister said, “The two sides had agreed to work within the framework of the NDMA.”
In 2012, Pakistan committed itself to giving the MFN status to India after a strong persuasive note by the World Bank, and having done all the necessary spadework in this regard, opted to miss its own deadline, owing to domestic opposition and lack of reciprocal response from New Delhi.
Asked about the plan to import electricity from India for the energy-starved Pakistan, he pointed out that two countries have made “progress” on the issue of purchasing electricity from India. “But, we need to have two electricity grids connected together for importing electricity,” said Khan.
The long discussed Indo-Pak electricity deal has moved closer to reality with Pakistan handing over the draft of an initial power trade deal to India. The move comes in the backdrop of the World Bank having offered to finance the feasibility study and transmission line to import 1,200 megawatts (MW) of power from India.
Referring to the EU trade concession granted to Islamabad recently, the Pakistani minister said that, “The EU has granted a ‘Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Plus’ status which allows Pakistani products duty free access to the European market.” The GSP Plus status, he said, will allow almost 20 percent of Pakistani exports to enter the EU market at zero tariff and at 70 percent preferential rates.
“The GSP Plus status award shows the confidence of international markets in the excellent quality of Pakistani products,” said Khan.
The trade concession granted by the EU will help Pakistani exports to rise by up to $2 billion he added noting that Pakistan’s textile industry would stand to benefit the most from this concession.—Arab News