Islamabad, Feb 7: Pakistan may grant non- discriminatory market access status to India and the two countries are moving towards sealing a deal to liberalise trade, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan has said. Khan told the Senate yesterday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had personally identified liberalised trade with India as a policy priority.
"Pakistan may grant 'non-discriminatory market access' (NDMA) status to India. The new deal will protect our business interests," he said in response to a question.
"There is an incorrect perception (among many) that Most Favoured Nation means giving India extraordinary market access, which is actually not correct. That is why we decided to replace this term with NDMA," he said. Pakistan and India are getting closer to sealing a deal to liberalise trade between them, the minister was quoted as saying by Express News.
The minister said Pakistan was working to protect its agriculture business while giving concessions to its mighty neighbour. NDMA status is essentially the same as granting Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status, which Pakistan is obliged to grant India under Islamabad's treaty obligations to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the daily said.
The two countries became founding members of the WTO in 1995 and as part of the agreement were required to grant each other MFN status. India did so in early 1996, but Pakistan is yet to reciprocate the move. Pakistan in the past linked the trade with the solving of political issues including Kashmir but of late there has been a change in the approach and now the country is trying to clinch a favourbale deal with India.