Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has welcomed the move by the Pakistani cabinet to increase the number of commodities that can be imported from India.
Till date, Pakistan was allowing the import of just 1,900 items from India, which has now been increased to 6,800 by the move on February 29. Live Mint reports that the Pak cabinet has now approved a negative list of nearly 1,200 items that the country cannot deal with India.
“This will mark a dramatic shift, as now, almost 90 percent of the items can be traded with Pakistan as opposed to 17 percent earlier,” Sharma stated.
This move comes in response to India’s long-standing demand to shift to a negative trade list from a positive one. Sharma believes that this step has moved Pakistan one step forward towards the country granting the status of ‘most-favoured nation’ (MFN) to India.
A release by Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani states that the Cabinet has approved the phasing out of the negative trade list between his country and India by the end of 2012. This will bring the process of trade normalization between India and Pakistan to completion.
“This development reaffirms the commitment of both governments for trade normalization as per the road map drawn during the visit of the Pakistani commerce minister from September 26-October 2, 2011,” Sharma stated in a release.
Sharma anticipates that bilateral trade between the two countries will be doubled over the next three years, from the current USD2.7 billion. He stated that the Pakistani Cabinet’s move would surely go a long way towards building better Indo-Pak economic ties and act as a confidence-building measure.