17 January 2012: Addressing the Senate, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim asserted that granting Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to neighboring India would enhance the purchasing power of Pakistanis who would have access to goods at competitive rates. In addition, local industry would acquire access to the large Indian market which has a customer base estimated between 300 and 500 million consumers. Multinationals and manufacturing companies would benefit too as a result of reduced freight and transportation costs. This will all contribute to lowering the cost of doing business in Pakistan. “This will improve the overall competitiveness and productivity of industry in Pakistan,” he said.
In order to protect the interests of the domestic industry, the Ministry of Commerce planned to implement steps aimed at normalising trade relations with India in stages. “The items on negative will not be permitted for import from India,” the minister said. He said that the commerce ministry had engaged in a comprehensive consultation process with domestic stakeholders to identify vulnerable products for inclusion in the negative list. He assured that the timeframe for the phasing out of the negative list would be based on the stakeholders inputs and recommendations. The process of formulation of negative list will be completed by mid February 2012.