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Pakistan hints at Most Favored Nation status for India

04-29-2011 14:00 BJT

ISLAMABAD, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan Thursday hinted at granting of Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to arch-rival India in the two-day high level trade talks in Islamabad that would help expand bilateral trade relations.

Both countries agreed to remove the non-tariff barriers and all other restrictive practices which hamper bilateral trade, which is currently around 2.2 billion U.S. dollars.

Pakistan would take immediate necessary steps to ensure that non-discriminatory trade regime is operational at the earliest and information from all stakeholders is collected to replace the present "Positive List" with "Negative list," a joint statement said at the end of the commerce secretary level talks on Thursday. The process would be completed by Oct. 2011.

During the talks, Pakistan recognized that grant of Most- Favored Nation (MFN) status to India would help expand bilateral trade relations, according to the statement.

Pakistan Commerce Secretary, Zafar Mahmood, dispelled the impression that the granting of MFN status to India was linked to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. He also said that Pakistani traders' bodies have not raised any objection to the granting of MFN status to India provided India lowers non-tariff barriers.

India has already granted the MFN status to Pakistan and has been demanding similar status and the Islamabad talks have raised hope for it, analysts said.

The two sides, which were holding their first trade talks since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, agreed that "increase in trade and economic engagement would help not only national development but also contribute to building trust."

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