Pakistan on Friday sought to link the grant of MFN issue with market access saying it wants level playing field to promote trade ties with India, which maintains that it has already taken the first step to enhance the commerce and now it was Islamabad's turn to reciprocate.
"Pakistan wants a level-playing field for promoting and further strengthening trade ties with India. There is need to address concerns relating to market access, tariff and non-tariff barriers," Abdul Basit, High Commissioner for Pakistan, said here.
Basit's comments were released in a statement by Pakistan High Commission after a meeting of India-Pakistan Joint Business Forum (IPJBF) where businessmen from neighbouring countries hoped Islamabad would confer much awaited MFN to India soon.
Indian officials rejected Pakistan's argument and said India granted the status in 1996 and it was Pakistan which was unable to fulfil its assurance given in 2012. Last month, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had told the Rajya Sabha that Pakistan has yet to grant the MFN status to India.
After the IPJBF meeting, Pakistani industry expressed hope that Islamabad would soon grant the MFN status as the formalities on the matter have been completed.
"All the home work has been completed and formalities have been done so I think it is only the matter of time when the two governments meet and right forum is there. So I do not think that is an issue," Pakistan Co-chair for IPJBF Syed Yawar Ali told reporters. In 2012, Pakistan had committed itself to give the MFN, now termed as Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA), status but missed its own deadline, owing to domestic opposition.
NDMA is a nomenclature chosen by Pakistan to avoid political ramifications at home of giving India MFN status.