Pak begins consultations on negative trade list: Report

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Islamabad, Feb 21: Pakistani authorities have begun the final round of crucial consultations to identify items to be placed on a negative list as part of measures to normalise trade relations with India, according to a media report on Tuesday.

The Commerce Ministry yesterday launched the consultations with other ministries and departments to finalise the negative list regime.

"The Ministry of Commerce will end the whole consultation process within one week," an unnamed senior official in the ministry was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

After the consultations, a formal proposal will be submitted to the cabinet by the end of February, a deadline set by the Pakistan government to switch over to a negative list regime, the official said.

The daily quoted a source in the Commerce Ministry as saying that the "whole machinery of the ministry was working on one agenda item" – to get the proposal passed at the next cabinet meeting to change the decades-old trade regime with India.

The Commerce Ministry has proposed opening the Pakistani market to an additional 2,000 items that will be importable from India after the cabinet gives its nod to the negative list.

Currently, only 1,946 items on a positive list can be imported from India.

On February 14, Pakistan's cabinet deferred a decision on switching over to a negative list regime after some stakeholders, including the Textiles and Interior Ministries, expressed their reservations over the move.

These stakeholders claimed they had not been adequately consulted about the proposal.

The cabinet made the decision while Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma was in Pakistan for a visit aimed at boosting trade ties.


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