ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has cut its sensitive item list by 20 per cent to allow duty-free import of more than 200 products from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
The Commerce Ministry in a press note issued on Wednesday said that the reduction of 233 tariff lines was an obligation for Pakistan under South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) after which the cut has shortened Pakistan’s sensitive list from 1169 to 936 tariff lines.
The SAARC Member States signed South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) during the 12th SAARC Summit held at Islamabad on 6th January 2004. Analysts were predicting it to be a significant move by the South Asian states to boost intra-regional trade.
The Ministry said that the list of 233 items has been prepared in consultations with stakeholders in order to ensure a wider consultation in which all the concerned authorities were requested to give their views by October 19, 2011. It will also impose no duties on 233 products from four other nations Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal that were also signatories to the SAFTA.
The SAARC agreement on trade in services has so far been ratified by Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Trade between the member countries, excluding Afghanistan stood at $14.35 billion last year, an increase of 43.4 per cent against the corresponding period 2009-10.
Each Member State retains a ‘sensitive list” which is not offered for concessional treatment. Presently, the statement said, Pakistan has placed 1169 tariff lines in its sensitive list.
At the SAARC platform, Working Group for reduction in Sensitive List was created to work out the modalities for reduction in the Sensitive Lists. The Group has held three meetings and accordingly, all the member states have agreed to reduce their Sensitive Lists at least by 20 per cent.
As per Trade Liberalisation Programme under SAFTA, the Non-LDCs (Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan) would reduce their tariff to 0-5 per cent by 2013, whereas the LDCs would reduce tariff to 0-5 per cent by 2016.