India and Pakistan appear to be putting decades of acrimony behind them as the Pakistan government approved granting the most favoured nation (MFN) status to India with a view to liberalising trade between the two countries and boosting the trade volume to $5 billion from $2.5 billion.
The decision was taken during a federal cabinet meeting chaired by prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in Islamabad. Announcing the decision at a press conference, federal information minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said that following an extensive briefing by the federal commerce secretary on Wednesday, the cabinet unanimously decided to grant India the MFN status. The move would help expand bilateral trade relations between the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours.
Following this move, Pakistan would lose the import restrict from India. At present, Islamabad allows import of only 1,946 items from New Delhi, whereas India does not allow trade of 850 items with Pakistan.
According to the Pakistani information minister, visa policies between the two countries would be made lenient and both sides would also remove non-tariff barriers and all other restrictive practices. India granted Pakistan MFN status in 1996, but Pakistan did not grant the same to India because of the events that followed, including the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
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