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MoC clarifies ‘Indian claim over SAFTA accord implementation’

Daily Times, Pakistan

MoC clarifies ‘Indian claim over SAFTA accord implementation’

Staff Report

23 March 2007

ISLAMABAD: The ministry of commerce has clarified the situation with regard to a news item published in a section of the press concerning “tariff issues between India and Pakistan” on March 22.

Quoting sources in New Delhi, an agency report was headlined “India wants SAARC to press Pakistan to resolve tariff issues.”

The commerce ministry said on Thursday just after the issuance of notification on July 1, 2006 to give tariff concessions under the SAFTA Agreement, India agitated that tariff concessions offered by Pakistan were subject to the Import Policy Order of Pakistan and were therefore against the spirit of SAFTA Agreement.

“Pakistan contested the Indian point of view during the recently held meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council. The Commerce Ministry of Pakistan rebutted the Indian point of view on grounds that the Import Policy Regulations are provided in the import regimes of all SAARC countries. Pakistan had only indicated this requirement in its notification to make it transparent. The fact that such conditions were not mentioned by other SAARC countries in their respective notifications, did not imply that they had waived such conditions for trade within the region. Pakistan had fully complied with its obligations under SAFTA.

“Pakistan is of the view that a large number of para tariffs and non-tariff barriers existing in the Trade Policy of India were denying market access to SAARC counties even after implementation of the SAFTA Agreement. The governing principle of SAFTA Agreement enshrined in Article 3 of the Agreement clearly states that ‘SAFTA shall involve free movement of goods, between countries through, inter alia, the elimination of tariffs, para tariffs and non tariff restrictions on the movement of goods, and other equivalent measures.’ India, however, is clamouring for grant of MFN status by Pakistan. “This issue pertains to the WTO and the SAFTA Agreement does not contain any such provision. This Agreement is to be governed by the objectives and principles, which are clearly stated in the body of the Agreement.

“Although during the SAFTA Ministerial Council’s meeting of February, 2007, India had threatened to withdraw tariff concessions given to Pakistan by India under the SAFTA Agreement, Pakistan stuck to the view that in case it happens, Pakistan would not respond in the like manner and its resolve to pursue the objectives of the Agreement will remain intact,” the ministry of commerce said.