The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Double-talk on trade continues
- Granting of MFN status not on Pakistan’s priority list

New Delhi, July 7: Pakistan today continued the double talk on improving trade and business relations with India when it indicated that the provision of most favoured nation (MFN) status to India was low on its list of priorities.

“It is not such an important issue,” said Senator Ilyas Ahmed Bilour, president of Indo Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ipcci). “The MFN status can be given to India any time in future. It is more important to resolve other important issues, including poverty at this point of time.”

There has been a thaw in Indo-Pakistan relations with both sides working on a series of confidence building measures that began with the appointment of high commissioners to the two countries.

The MFN issue has been a sticking point in economic ties between the two countries. Both countries are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and are required to extend mutually favourable trade and tariff benefits to each other. India has extended MFN status to Pakistan but it hasn’t reciprocated.

However, at the third meeting of the India-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted by Ficci here today, it was evident that there are divergent views on the MFN issue in Pakistan.

Aziz Ahmed Khan, Pakistan’s high commissioner-designate to India, said: “Ultimate trade restrictive policies not only impede growth of trade but also adversely affect all partners in the region. Even though India has extended MFN status to Pakistan, we have suffered an adverse balance of trade vis-à-vis India throughout the last decade.”

Yashwant Sinha, external affairs minister, stressed that fruitful economic relationship between the two South Asian neighbours would result in employment and income generation for people of both India and Pakistan.

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