Thursday, 3 November 2011

Civil society hails MFN status to India

The federal cabinet’s decision to give India the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for trade purposes is being termed a breakthrough by human right activists and peacemakers on both sides of the border.

The Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC) and the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) welcomed the federal cabinet’s decision to give India the MFN status for trade purposes and believed it was a right step towards prosperity and development in South Asia.

In a joint statement, the PPC and the Piler noted that it was a major breakthrough in liberalisation of trade between India and Pakistan. This step would certainly be appreciated on both sides of the border, the statement added.

So far, bilateral trade between India and Pakistan has been affected by non-tariff barriers such as security clearance, custom inspection and the requirement of technical certification. It is worth mentioning here that India had already granted MFN status to Pakistan back in 1996. 

PPC and Piler have been amongst the organisations working for peace in South Asia and had long ago initiated a peace campaign, along with other civil society organisations in Pakistan and India. The two stressed on trade 

and the easy movement of people between the countries as the key points of their campaign. 

“We see it as an opportunity of normalisation of ties between the two neighbouring countries and also hope that they resolve all the pending issues, especially the detainment of fisherfolk from both countries and territorial disputes like Sir Creek as well as Siachin,” the statement said.

The statement suggested that both countries should stop spending their budgets in an arms race and use that portion for the welfare of the masses. “We demand that both countries announce a road map for the normalization of trade, so that no element can sabotage the peace process on both sides of the border,” the statement said.

Trade between the two countries stood at around $2.6 billion and has the potential to be increased in various sectors. Moving towards realising this potential is in the interest of people in both countries and especially Pakistan. 

Increased trade between the two would certainly boost economic activity on both sides of the border. New rail and road networks should also be opened to further accelerate the trade, the statement suggested. 

It highlighted that Pakistan and India were already members of SAARC and all those countries have signed a charter to reduce custom duties of all traded good up to 2016. The statement also stressed that a proper disaster management programme and exchange of expertise would be fruitful for both countries as climate change has left the region prone to natural disasters such as floods.

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