Trade Talks Part of Modi-Sharif Meeting Today
Trade-related issues such as grant of non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) to Indian products are expected to figure in the bilateral meeting of Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif here on Tuesday. “Definitely both the prime ministers will discuss issues related to trade. It is an important issue. But the ball is in Pakistan’s court. India has already agreed on the road map to boost trade between the two countries,” official sources said. Sharif is here to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi. His delegation includes advisor Sartaj Aziz, special assistant Tariq Fatemi and foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry. Sharif will have a separate meeting with Modi before returning to Pakistan. Pakistan has decided to postpone grant of NDMA status to India due to domestic compulsions.
Bilateral trade talks have been suspended since last year following escalation in violence at the line of control. In 2012, Pakistan had committed to giving the most favoured nation (MFN) status to India but missed its own deadline of December 31, owing to domestic opposition. The neighbouring country has to abolish the negative list of 1,209 tradable items. Abolishing the negative list items that cannot be imported from India means the grant of NDMA status to India. NDMA is a nomenclature chosen by the Pakistan government to avoid political ramifications at home of giving India the MFN status. Besides, both sides had agreed to start trade in power and oil sectors and open more trade routes. The bilateral trade between the countries stood at $2.6 billion in 2012-13. India’s main exports to Pakistan include sugar, manmade filaments and chemicals while its imports comprise mineral fuels, among others.
In 2012, Pakistan had committed itself to give the most favoured nation status but missed its own deadline of December 31, owing to domestic opposition