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India, Pakistan to speed up work on NDMA status

08 February, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Both Pakistan and India have agreed to expedite work on grant of Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) to each other on reciprocal basis, and in this regard Indian trade minister is arriving in Lahore next week.

Federal Minister for Commerce Eng Khurram Dastgir Khan told senators during question hour that Pakistan has not yet given NDMA and Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India. He said the government has invited Indian trade minister next week in Lahore because there is an Indian goods show in the city. Both the countries have agreed that there should be a level playing field for trade and investment, and in this regard, he said, negotiations are in progress.

Dastgir told the House that India granted the MFN status to Pakistan in1996. On the Indian side there are no positive or negative lists as is the case with Pakistan, but India has sensitive lists which consist of 1,700 items. "During talks we will try to reduce these items," the minister said. Khurram said the NDMA entails treating imports from a particular country at par with imports from other trading partners, in terms of market access and imposition of taxes/customs tariffs.

The MFN is a term used in the WTO agreement. The term implies that any advantage, privilege or immunity granted to a WTO member, to any product originating in or destined for any other country and has to be accorded immediately and unconditionally to the like product originating in or destined for the territories of all other WTO member countries. To another question, Minister for State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmad stated that the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is incurring a loss of Rs 87 million on a daily basis.

He said that previously PIA was incurring a loss of around Rs 101 million per day, which has now been reduced due to the government's hectic efforts. "This year, the PIA has improved and it has generated Rs 71.71 billion net income within the first nine months from January to September 2013," Ahmad said. He apprised the House that the government has injected Rs 16 billion in PIA out of which Rs 11.759 billion has been released so far as equity to put 10 grounded aircrafts back in service.

Senator Muhammad Talha Mehmood showed his concern over the privatisation of PIA, asking if the organisation is improving its financial condition gradually then why is it being privatised. "In fact, the government has no concern with business; it is the department of private sector. As far as the government is concerned, its duty is to form polices and legislation, etc," the minister replied. He pointed out that the PIA has leased four planes from Turkey and plans to get 10 more in the near future on dry lease.

Aftab said that the last time the airliners were purchased on wet lease but this time the deal is being done on dry lease. He was of the opinion that small aircraft are better than big planes with regards to fuel consumption. "The fuel consumption of leased aircraft is 10 percent of the passengers, while the PIA-owned aircraft, which are big, have 52 percent fuel consumption as compared to the earning from passengers," Ahmed said.

End.

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