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Pakistan likely to stay away from SAFTA

Pakistan's ratification of SAFTA treaty would automatically grant MFN status to India.

world Updated: Jan 16, 2006 14:08 IST

Pakistan is unlikely to ratify the SAFTA treaty, as it would compromise its stand that talks with India on trade could go ahead only in tandem with progress on the Kashmir issue, sources said.

Ratification of the agreement by Islamabad would mean Pakistan has opened its border for all kinds of trade items with all SAARC member countries, including India, the sources told Pakistani Dawn daily.

Pakistan's ratification of SAFTA treaty would automatically grant MFN status to India. However, Pakistan's longstanding position that talks with India on trade could progress in tandem with progress on Kashmir question would stand dissolved, they said.

The federal cabinet in its forthcoming meeting is likely to take up the issue of ratification of the agreement.

Out of seven SAARC member countries, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan have ratified the treaty.

Pakistan currently allows import of only 773 categories of items from India under an approved list while all other goods outside the scope of the list are banned for import.

SAFTA agreement covers negative lists of items, which means that duty on these goods would not be reduced but their trade would be allowed at normal duties applicable in member states.

First Published: Jan 16, 2006 14:08 IST