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Home politics delays Pak bid to change India trade terms

Amid the ongoing political uncertainty after the indictment of Pak PM Yusuf Raza Gilani by its SC, Islamabad on Tuesday postponed a much-hyped decision to replace its existing list of 1,963 items, currently being traded with India. Anupama Airy reports.

business Updated: Feb 15, 2012 01:40 IST
Anupama Airy

Amid the ongoing political uncertainty after the indictment of Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani by its Supreme Court, Islamabad on Tuesday postponed a much-hyped decision to replace its existing list of 1,963 items, currently being traded with India, with a proposed India-specific negative list of 636 items for imports from India.

The move came as a big disappointment for the visiting Indian delegation of around 120 industrialists led by commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma to Pakistan.

Pakistan's High Commissioner to India, Shahid Malik, who is also in Pakistan, told the Hindustan Times that it was just a matter of time that a decision would be taken soon. "The ongoing political developments may have delayed a decision but it will eventually come," he said.

While deferring the negative list proposal, the Pakistan's cabinet, however, gave its approval to the signing of three agreements with India.

"The cabinet considered and accorded its approval for signing of cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters agreement, bilateral cooperation agreement on mutual recognition between Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and agreement on redressal of trade grievances between Pakistan and India," an official statement from the press information department of Pakistan said.

Sharing the Indian industry's disappointment, FICCI president RV Kanoria said, "We are disappointed as we were hoping the decision to come through during this visit."

"I don't think the sentiments of the business community are being correctly understood. Businesses are thinking of partnerships, but the political leadership is not backing the true sentiments of business men from the two sides."

CII president and Tata Steel vice-chairman B Muthuraman too expressed his disappointment, saying "I am disappointed by this but it should be seen as a step ahead as people on both sides have started talking."

While the negative list of 636 items proposed by Pakistan will increase India's present list of tradable items four-fold but most items of interest to Indian businessmen in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, auto components, textile, plastics and steel have been placed by the Pakistan's government for the negative list.