Pak­istan yet to de­cide par­tic­i­pa­tion in WTO moot in In­dia

Enterprise - - National News -

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.”

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