Pakistan is likely to ink a separate bilateral agreement with India with a view to protecting its agriculture sector, well informed sources in Commerce Ministry told Business Recorder. India has been vigorously seeking the grant of Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) status by Pakistan. The sources said the Commerce Ministry has postponed a meeting with the agriculture sector scheduled for Friday (today) till February 4, 2014.
However, different sectors believe that the incumbent government lacks vision at every level due to which disappointment amongst different sectors is imminent. According to sources, the government will not take any decision which is harmful to farmers’ community given that India is extending substantial identified and hidden subsidies to its different sectors, including the agriculture sector. Commerce Minister Engineer Khurram Dastgir maintains that the pharmaceutical sector, auto sector and agriculture sector will not be touched while granting NDMA status to India. However, the three sectors are preparing themselves for the worst and at the same time are formulating future strategies.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is expected to visit Pakistan in March 2014, which implies Pakistan will grant the MFN status to India. When contacted, Dr Tariq Bucha, President of Farmers Associates Pakistan, told Business Recorder that the government has started listening to the agriculture community’s viewpoint and is extending all possible co-operation. “We are expecting that a policy ‘how to safeguard our farmers and proceed further’ will be ready by the middle of next month,” he added.
He further said that every country has to safeguard its own interests and Pakistan will have to do something for its farmers and other areas which may come under threat due to the grant of MFN status to India. In reply to a question, he said that his Association has already started a study on ‘how to safeguard our farmers and proceed further’. Pakistan’s agriculture community is also unhappy with SAFTA, saying that this agreement is not good with respect to trade in agriculture goods as it does not give enough room to safeguard farmers. Pakistan will demand that India unravel its hidden NTBs and para tariff measures which are hindering exports from Pakistan.