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May 22, 2002 | 1200 IST
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Trade war not to hurt India

Mamata Singh

Even as the Cabinet Committee on Security was slated to decide on trade-related punitive measures against Pakistan, officials said there would be no significant impact if the most favoured nation status granted to Pakistan was revoked.

Pakistan accounts for only 1.66 per cent of India's exports and 0.14 per cent of imports. Despite the MFN status, India did not import much from the neighbour and Pakistan, anyway, had not given the MFN status to India, officials in the commerce ministry said.

According to officials, Commerce and Industry Minister Murasoli Maran has written to Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh stating that a decision on any trade-related measure against Pakistan will be taken by the CCS.

While imports from Pakistan have been on the rise since the 1990s, the only year in which Pakistani imports showed a significant growth was 1998-99 , when the figure touched Rs 9.2 billion, mainly on account of sugar imports.

Imports from Pakistan were worth Rs 1.5 billion in 1991-92 and rose to Rs 2.97 billion in 1999-2000. Between April 2001 and January 2002, imports stood at Rs 2.83 billion.

Other than granting the MFN status, the Indian government had decided to reduce tariffs on some imports from Pakistan through a process of inter-ministerial consultation, but these had not yet been notified, officials said.

On the export front, India exported Rs 5.31 billion worth of goods, mainly sugar, drugs, pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals, plastic and linoleum products, to Pakistan during April-December 2001-02.

In fact, the volume of indirect trade with Pakistan was much higher, said officials. Various industry bodies have estimated the figure at around Rs 50 billion.

Most of the items were sent to Pakistan via the West Asia route and trade was not likely to be affected even with an embargo, the officials maintained.

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