Islamabad wants to first examine the list of 264 items on which New Delhi has agreed to lower tariffs over three years to see if it contains items of interest to its business community, the official said, adding that it will decide the next course of action after that.
"India has refused to show us the list despite our requests and has asked us to wait for the official notification," the official said. "We hope it is made public before commerce secretaries meet in Islamabad later this month. It will be difficult for us to take a decision on MFN without examining the list."
Commerce secretary SR Rao is likely to discuss with his Pakistani counterpart Munir Qureshi a number of important issues such as dismantling of the negative list of imports by Pakistan and grant of the MFN status to India. India bestowed MFN status on Pakistan in 1996 and Pakistan has promised to reciprocate by the end of this year. The MFN status would essentially mean that Pakistan would treat India like its other trade partners, allowing import of all those products that it accepts from other nations.
Talks between the two officials will also focus on allowing greater trade through land route, opening of cross-border bank branches and trade in petroleum and electricity.
Indian officials say the extension of MFN status should not depend upon the items on which India has agreed to reduce duties under the South Asia Free Trade Area (Safta).
"We had promised that we would reduce our sensitive list for Pakistan by 30%, or 264 items, after it moves to a more liberal negative list regime for our imports," a commerce department official told ET. "We have stuck to our promise. They can't now squabble with us over the items that are not in the list."
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