LAHORE: Federal Commerce Secretary Zafar Mahmood Monday said Pakistan government has decided to phase out the negative list by year end provided India assures level playing fields for Pakistan traders.
He was delivering a keynote address at 2nd Aman Ki Asha Indo-Pak Economic Conference, a joint initiative of the Jang Group and Times of India which started here on Monday.
“Pakistan cabinet took a historic decision on February 29, 2012 of reducing negative list to only 1,209 items. However, the cabinet decided that this list will be phased out by December 31st 2012 provided India assures level playing fields for Pakistan traders," Zafar Mahmood said, adding his task really starts now.
The Commerce Secretary said our friends in India can do a lot in ensuring level playing fields for traders hailing from other side of the border. I find a lot of sincerity in Indian friends and counterparts to move ahead in right direction, he added.
Mahmood was of the view that India had given concessions in trade to all countries in SAARC except Pakistan and Sri Lank. India has trade relations with Sri Lank as it signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with neighboring island.
Talking about facilitating bilateral trade, he said, India can give special treatment to traders of Pakistan in line with existing global trade rules under World Trade Organization.
Regarding progress on trade related issues in last couple of decades, Mahmood said, India abolished negative list in 1995 but trade could not be initiated.
Talking about non-tariff barriers (NTBs) imposed by India, he said, on some occasions custom authorities imposed double duty on consignment dispatched to Mumbai.
In order to avoid such treatment, he added, one leading exporter from Pakistan had been left with no option but to bypass Mumbai by opting direct but costly air route to Delhi for delivering his consignment.
To address such issues, he said, Pakistan signed several agreements with India including Custom Cooperation Agreement and Mutual Recognition Agreement. This exercise was aimed at addressing trust deficit between the two nations. Why there is a trust deficit, he posed.