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MFN status to India will benefit Pakistan, say its traders

Posted on Apr 12, 10:31PM | IANS

New Delhi, April 12 : The most favoured nation (MFN) status to India will ultimately benefit Pakistan and provide its traders a huge opportunity in the Indian market, exhibitors at the Lifestyle Pakistan exhibition said Thursday.

"Luxury furniture has a huge market in India but so far the trade has been zero. They have to give India MFN status, Business community in Pakistan is asking for it as it is good for our people," Seema Iftikhar, owner of Lahore-based Zamana Interiors, a luxury furniture maker, told IANS.

The prices of the artifacts at her stall which start from Rs.40,000 are made up of sheesham and have carving and gold leaf painting.

"Though we are targeting to cater to the high end customers, the prices we offer are comparatively very cheaper as compared to similar products available in India. Besides what we have are all hand made and exclusive stuffs," she added.

Pakistan has moved from the "positive list" to a short "negative list," in a bid to according the MFN status and normalising trade relations with India.

The move will substantially increase the number of items to be traded between the two countries. Currently, Pakistan maintains a "positive list" of 1,945 items which are allowed to be imported from India.

India had granted Pakistan MFN status in 1996.

Another exhibitor, Saadi Rauf of dairy products maker Engro Foods told IANS that India and Pakistan have very similar tastes and the focus of his company was to target the price sensitive market in India.

"If the trade relations improves between the two countries then traders from both the sides will benefit. The products that we have specially our liquid tea whitener has a huge market in India as India just like Pakistan consumes a lot of tea," Rauf said, displaying a 200 ml tetra pack of the product called Tarang priced at Rs.10 for the Indian market.

Engro Foods, which has roped in leading Pakistani actors including Ali Zafar for promotional campaigns, said it might rope in Bollywood stars to promote its products.

Despite a shared history and culture, two-way trade between India and Pakistan has been a miniscule USD 3 billion, most of this take place through a circuitous third country route. In September, the two sides pledged to double bilateral trade within three years to about USD 6 billion.