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Pak MFN tag on way

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Reuters)

New Delhi, May 27: Pakistan offered to the Modi government what it had promised the Manmohan Singh-government — normalisation of trade relations by granting India the most favoured nation status, which will allow both countries to sell goods to each other at the lowest duty rates.

Official sources said Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif made the offer at a closed-door meeting with newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Pakistan had agreed to normalise trade during talks last year but did not do so after realising there could be a change in the government.

Pakistani officials wanted to use the trade deal as a sweetener to get Modi to smoke the peace pipe with the beleaguered nation which is going through an economic crisis.

Top officials said they expected Pakistan to announce the MFN status to India using the neutral nomenclature Non-Discriminatory Market Access once a deal to allow limited shipments of Pakistani textiles at lower duties was hammered out.

Pakistan has sought reduction in duties on more than 250 textile products to a peak tariff of 7.5 per cent from India, which officials indicated would be considered.

India is also expected to limit the number of goods in which trade is not allowed to 100 product lines, of which 75 will be farm produce. It will also need to address complaints of non-tariff barriers which Pakistani businessmen have sought.

 
 
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