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No discussion so far on withdrawal of MFN to Pak: Nirmala

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The government has so far not discussed the issue of withdrawal of the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan, Commerce and Industry Minister said today.

India, she said, had extended the MFN status to as a "goodwill gesture" way back in 1996 but unfortunately the neighbouring country has not yet extended the same to

"On the issue of the withdrawal of MFN from Pakistan, strictly speaking, that has not yet been discussed," she told reporters here.

The decision to withdraw the status or not will have to be taken by the government and "I cannot comment on that", she added.

Last month, government had decided to review the MFN status given to at a meeting called by Prime Minister Modi. But the meeting was postponed.

The review decision was taken in the wake of the Uri attack.

also considered the option of dragging to WTO over non-extension of the status.

The neighbouring country has missed its own deadline of December 2012 for giving this tag.

As per the global trade norms, member countries of the WTO are required to give non-discriminatory market access as part of the MFN status to each other.

The bilateral trade between the countries stood at USD 2.61 billion in 2015-16.

Talking about increasing imports from China, the minister said there is no instrument to completely stop imports from one country.

It is impossible to completely ban imports from one country, she added.

"But if one wants to restrict the imports because that country is giving more subsidy or on quality issue, then we have instruments like we can impose anti-dumping duties or safeguard measures," she added.

has time and again raised the issue of widening trade deficit with China.

In her meeting with Chinese Vice Minister for Finance and Commerce Wang Shouwen, Sitharaman has asked for providing greater market access for Indian products there.

China has assured that it will act on the concerns expressed by

In 2015-16, India's exports to China were USD 9 billion, while imports were USD 61.7 billion, leaving a huge trade deficit of USD 52.7 billion.


When asked about a proposal mooted by China for negotiating a free trade agreement among BRICS members, Sitharaman said: "I am not aware of it (the proposal)".

She said that South Africa has discussed about reviving the SACU trade pact; Brazil about MERCOSUR (trading bloc in Latin America comprising Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay); Russia talked the Eurasian pact and China about the mega deal - RCEP.

On trade issues with China, Sitharaman said that her interaction with the Chinese minister was very positive and "probably they will come back to us sooner this time" on the specific concerns raised by

When asked whether government is considering FDI policy relaxation in e-commerce sector, DIPP Secretary Ramesh Abhishek said a committee is looking into the issues of the sector including FDI related matters.

"When the committee gives its report, the government will examine its recommendations and take appropriate view," he told reporters.

On the consideration of FDI norms easing in food processing, he said: "nothing is casting stone because the government always reviews policy".

Speaking at the press briefing on declining exports, DGFT Anup Wadhawan said the position on exports in rupee terms is not as bad as in dollar terms.

First Published: Fri, October 14 2016. 17:32 IST