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'Concessions to Pak may be withdrawn'

Unhappy over Pak's resistance to implement SAFTA, India says it may be compelled to withdraw concessions if it does not take a decision in this regard soon.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 12, 2008 10:09 PM IST

Unhappy over Pakistan's resistance to implement South Asia Free Trade Agreement, India on Saturday said it may be compelled to withdraw concessions to the neighbouring country if it does not take a decision in this regard soon.

New Delhi, however, expects the new government in Pakistan would resolve the issue soon. "We have provided a series of concessions to Pakistan under SAFTA. Pakistan has not provided to India. We are looking at the situation," Commerce Minister Kamal Nath told reporters on the sidelines of a CII function on Foreign Trade Policy.

Noting that Pakistan has sought more time on the issue, he said "if they don't take a decision on this, then India may be compelled, we will consider it, to withdraw the concessions."

However, with the new government assuming office in Pakistan, Nath said "we are hopeful. Last six to eight months, there has been inactivity on this front. We understand. But we are hoping, in the next couple of months, to resolve this."

SAFTA came into effect in June 2006 but Pakistan has refused to implement it with regard to India. Pakistan maintains that it would continue to conduct commerce with India on the basis of the positive list under which about 1,000 items can be traded.

India views this as violative of the SAFTA spirit. Nath said India has asked Pakistan to expand the positive list, failing which New Delhi will have to act. On import of cement from Pakistan, Nath said: "We are trying to import more cement from Pakistan, there are some issues on quality but we are trying to resolve these".

There are infrastructure problems in the supply side management, he said, adding that "the issue of wagons and trucks are being addressed".

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