Islamabad: Granting of MFN status to India is not on the table "for the time being", Pakistan's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said while stating Islamabad was committed to promoting cordial relations with New Delhi and other neighbouring countries.
The remarks came within days of World Bank saying in a report that Pakistan will benefit from granting the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India.
In an interview to state-run PTV, Dar said granting of MFN status to India was not yet on table "as our country's own interests have to be defended first".
On August 20, the World Bank had said it has put together a Country Economic Memorandum and 16 sector-specific Policy Notes for the Nawaz Sharif government to consider.
"Completing the trade normalisation process with India and granting it the MFN status would help Pakistan benefit quickly from the fast growth and large markets," it had said in the report.
Meanwhile, APP news agency quoted Dar to say that Pakistan government is fully committed to promote cordial relations with all neighbouring countries including India.
This included developing a meaningful economic cooperation and trade development, he said.
Pakistan has moved to a negative list regime for trade with India, a step which officials say was a significant development.
The elimination of the negative list regime will culminate in the grant of MFN-status to India.
Pakistan had missed its own December 31 deadline for phasing out the negative list regime.
The previous PPP government had put on hold the move to give MFN-status in the wake of intense lobbying by some industries and opposition from hardline and extremist groups like the Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Defa-e-Pakistan Council.
India has granted MFN status to Pakistan way back in 1996.
Under the negative list regime, Pakistan has permitted imports from India in all but 1,200 items.
The bilateral trade between the nations stood at USD 2.35 billion in 2012-13, as against USD USD 1.93 billion in the earlier fiscal.
First Published: Saturday, August 31, 2013, 15:17