Pakistan yet to decide participation in WTO moot in India
India invited Pakistan to attend an important ministerial conference scheduled in New Delhi to iron out differences on fisheries subsidies and duties on e-commerce, but the latter is yet to decide the participation given the frequent border skirmishes and the former’s attempt to fail Islamabad-hosted regional moot two years back.
A spokesperson of the ministry of commerce said India invited Pakistan’s minister of commerce to attend an informal mini-ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
India is hosting mini-ministerial meeting in New Delhi in March with an intention to make fresh efforts for evolving consensus among the developed and developing member states of WTO on key issues on which the last meeting remained unable to achieve apparent and desired progress.
“The Commerce Minister Pervaiz Malik has been invited to attend the mini-ministerial,” the spokesperson of ministry of commerce said in a statement. “However, it has yet not been decided if he will be able to attend the meeting.”
The 11th ministerial conference took place between 10 and 13 December 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which was headed by Minister Susana Malcorra of Argentina. The conference ended with a number of ministerial decisions, including on fisheries subsidies and e-commerce duties, and a commitment to continue negotiations in all areas. However, member states could not agree on a number of issues to secure a deal on elimination of fisheries subsidies by the next ministerial in December 2019.
Officials said reluctance on the part of China and India to make immediate commitments thwarted a deal on fisheries at the Buenos Aires meeting. Now efforts are underway to move towards consensus on important issues.
The officials said it is yet to see that how much the upcoming mini-ministerial conference would succeed in forging consensus among the member states because stalemate will lead international trade nowhere in near future.
In November 2016, Pakistan convened 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit in Islamabad, but India pulled out of the regional conference on its concerns over terrorists attacks and other member states of the eight-member body followed suit.
The unresolved political issues between the region’s two biggest economies are main hurdles in the regional economic integration. Bilateral trade between the two countries moved with a snail’s pace due to trust deficits and perennial political differences. Pakistan’s exports inched up to $392 million in 2014 from $337 million in 2005, while its imports from India increased to $2.1 billion from $576 million during the period.
A business advocacy group said there is a considerable trade potential between Pakistan and India. “India, in addition to possessing very high export potential to Pakistan, offers substantive support to its producers in the form of subsidies and export support schemes and maintains intractable nontariff barriers to discourage imports,” Pakistan Business Council said in a report. “Pakistan possesses considerable export potential to India, but it offers little support or protection to its producers and exporters, and has relatively low non-tariff barriers.”