ISLAMABAD  - Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan has made it clear that Pakistan is not going to sign any new trade agreement with India and Islamabad would grant non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) to New Delhi when it accommodates our main exportable items.

“Pakistan is not going to grant non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) status to India until the neighbouring country did not accommodate our main exportable items like textile cement, surgical instruments, and sports”, said Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan while talking to TheNation. He informed that India has included our main exportable items in their sensitive list and imposed higher duties, so our exporters could not export their commodities.

“There is no timeline in granting NDMA status to India, as Pakistan wants to address its concerns prior to granting any status”, said the Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile. On a question, he said that India has given positive response in this regard, however, decision of giving NDMA would be announced when they would remove our main exportable items from sensitive list.

“Pakistan will take the matter with next Indian government if incumbent Indian government fails to make any decision in this regard”, he maintained. 

The NDMA has been suggested as a new name for MFN (most favoured nation) in an attempt to reduce the political fallout. India could export everything to Pakistan except 1209 items, which are on the negative list. The MFN status/NDMA means abolishing the negative list of 1,209 items.

Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan said that Pakistan would not sign any new trade agreement with India and obeyed those three agreements signed by the previous Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). But, he made it clear that India would have to relax its restrictive tariff regime for Pakistani products and will give tariff concession on various products pertaining to Pakistan’s strong sectors such as textile, cement, surgical instruments and sports.

The previous PPP government announced in October 2011 that it would grant the MFN status to India from January 1, 2013, by converting the negative list into positive one by the end of 2012, a step that would have automatically granted MFN status to India. However, Pakistan failed to grant the MFN status to India before December 31, 2012.

India had granted the MFN status to Pakistan in 1996, but non-tariff barriers remained intact on exports from Pakistan and both the sides did not make much progress towards trade liberalisation. India, at present, can export all items to Pakistan other than the 1,209 items put on the negative list. Later, when Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) came into power after the general elections of May 2013, it was supposed that it would grant the MFN status to India. However, Pakistan decided not to grant this status to India after tension emerged on its eastern border.

Pakistan has faced over $6 billion deficit because of trade with India in six years, which suggests that trade with the neighbouring country is in its favour. According to the figures, Pakistan’s exports to India recorded at $1.735 billion in last six years (from 2006-07 to 2011-12) against the imports of $8.363 billion, thus leaving the trade deficit at $6.628 billion in the period under review. The figures suggest that Pakistan’s exports never exceeded $350 million in a year while imports from India crossed $1 billion benchmark every year in the last six years.