Pakistan has “no immediate plans” to grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India, a senior aide to Prime Minister Imran Khan has said, amid the chill in bilateral ties.
Asked whether the government was considering granting MFN status to India and that Prime Minister Khan was keen to hold peace talks with the Indian government, Adviser to the Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industry and Investments, Abdul Razak Dawood said, “No such plans at the moment”.
“At present we have no immediate plans to grant MFN status to India,” he said here at an event on Tuesday.
However, he said Pakistan is working out free trade agreements with different countries, especially China, and hopes to complete the second FTA with China by June, 2019.
Pakistan is yet to award the MFN status to India and it maintains a negative list of 1,209 items which are not permitted to be imported from India.
As per a World Trade Organisation rule, every member of WTO is required to accord this status to other member countries.
India has already granted this status to all WTO members, including Pakistan.
Under the MFN status, a WTO member country is obliged to treat other trading nations in a non-discriminatory manner, especially with regard to customs duty and other levies, but Pakistan is yet to transition fully to MFN status for India.
Pakistan allows only 137 products to be exported from India through the Wagah border land route.
Bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $2.28 billion in 2016-17.
India mainly exports cotton, dyes, chemicals, vegetables and iron and steel to Pakistan while it imports fruits, cement, leather, chemicals and spices.
India-Pakistan relations have nose-dived in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place. Ties between the two countries had been strained after terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016.
The sentencing of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav to death by a Pakistani military court over espionage charges last year further dented relations.
In September, India cancelled a planned meeting in New York between the two foreign ministers which was dubbed as “arrogant” by Prime Minister Khan who said he was “disappointed” by New Delhi’s “negative” response.
India cited the “brutal” killing of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir as well as Pakistan’s release of postal stamps “glorifying” slain Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani for calling off the meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).