Islamabad: Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar clashed with Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim over the issue of Islamabad missing the deadline for normalising trade relations with India during a cabinet meeting last week, according to a media report on Wednesday. (Agencies)
Khar, who was reportedly not aware of all developments on the issue of normalising trade, argued that the December 31 deadline for doing away with a negative list regime should have been adhered to as it has implications for bilateral relations, the Business Recorder daily quoted its sources as saying.
The Foreign Minister clashed with Fahim in the cabinet meeting on January 3 when the issue "move from positive to negative list of items for India" was discussed though it was not on the agenda.
Khar subsequently convened an inter-ministerial meeting to discuss issues hindering full normalisation of trade relations with India, the sources said.
Pakistan had committed itself to phasing out the negative list regime by December 31, paving the way for giving India Most Favoured Nation-status by the beginning of the year.
Officials recently said the process for giving MFN-status had been delayed.
During the cabinet meeting, Textiles Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin said a level playing field must be created for Pakistan's textile products by implementing a uniform tax regime before MFN-status is granted to India.
The Minister for National Regulations and Services said the interests of domestic industry had not been addressed by the Commerce Ministry.
However, Khar argued that the cabinet's decision of February 28, 2012 to phase out the negative list by December 31 was in the larger interest of Pakistan and a major policy decision of the current government.
The negative list allows commerce in all but 1,209 items, including 78 textile and apparel items.
Pakistani farmers' lobbies have opposed the move to give India MFN-status, saying not a single agricultural item, except tobacco, is on the negative list or the sensitive list of Pakistani imports from India.
The Business Recorder quoted sources as saying that the Commerce Ministry has assured the farmers that their concerns will be taken care of.
It said insiders had claimed that phasing out the negative list or giving MFN-status to India would not have any negative impact on Pakistani agriculture as only tobacco is expected to suffer.
The sources further said the main issue holding up normalisation of trade relations is inadequate infrastructure on Pakistan's side at the Wagha land border.
They said that if MFN-status is granted to India without completing infrastructure at Wagha, the prices of goods coming from India will double due to choking of trucks.
Commerce Secretary Munir Qureshi is negotiating with farmers and explained to the cabinet that his Ministry is following a roadmap and three agreements have been signed with India to facilitate trade.
Islamabad: Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar clashed with Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim over the issue of Islamabad missing the deadline for normalising trade relations with India during a cabinet meeting last week, according to a media report on Wednesday.