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Commerce Ministry to take up Indian subsidized agri exports at WTO

Commerce Ministry to take up Indian subsidized agri exports at WTO

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has decided to take up the trade injury of export of subsidized Indian agricultural products at the forum of World Trade Organization (WTO).

‘The very issue of imposition of non tariff barriers on Pakistani exports will also be raised at WTO,” a source privy to Minister for Commerce told this scribe here on Wednesday.

Indian non-tariff barriers included six major categories, namely, quantitative restrictions, trade facilitation and customs procedures, technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, financial measures, para-tariff measures and visas, positive list approach, trade facilitation and customs procedure. Indian tariff regime protects agriculture, composite taxes are levied on textiles and clothing as India has relatively more protective tariff regime for Pakistan in the SAARC region.

The source said that the National Tariff Commission (NTC) , besides enforcing and implementing trade defence laws, was mandated to advise the Ministry of Commerce on tariff measures or other forms of assistance for providing protection to indigenous industry.

“The Commission has been asked to suggest safeguard measures, tariff and para tariffs, duties and subsidies, where deemed necessary, in connection with granting MFN status to India, in order to guard against unfair competition,” the source added.

The source said that in the light of recommendations floated by NTC the MoC had constituted, Regional Trade Committee on Agriculture Sector, Regional Trade Committee on Pharmaceutical Sector, Regional Trade Committee on Auto Sector, Regional Trade Committee on Textile Sector, Wagah Trade Committee on Agriculture and Wagah Trade Committee with representation of public and private sectors. Moreover the source said that Directorate of Agriculture had been established in NTC, with the objective to provide protection to the local agriculture sector through prompt application of trade defence measures in case of injury or threat of injury due to any import surge from India.

“Similarly, a mechanism is being developed wherein the Textile & Pharmaceutics sectors will have an informal advisory role at NTC with the objective to provide protection to the local industry,” the source observed, adding that Trade Monitoring Cells in the Ministry of Commerce and TDAP, Lahore have been established.

The source said that NTC had levied antidumping duty at 10.94% for a period of five years on 13-02-2011 on dumped imports of phthalic anhydride imported from India.

It is pertinent to note here that the statistics shows that there is a large untapped trade potential between the two countries. Using the potential trade approach, it is estimated that the trade potential between these two countries is US $6 billion. Items having export potential from Pakistan are largely in the Textile sector while items having export potential from India are predominantly in non-textile sectors. Very few items having export potential from India are on the positive list adopted by Pakistan. At the same time there are several items that India is importing from other countries but not from Pakistan. This indicates that there is a huge information gap on both sides on items that can be imported by India from Pakistan.