Sunday, August 19, 2012

India reduces negative list for non-LDCs


India has reduced the number of items in the sensitive list for South Asian non-least developed countries (LDCs) to further expand trade in goods in the region that is the least integrated region in terms of trade and transportation.
It has approved reduction of 30 per cent or 264 such items for non-LDCs that are contained under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). "It shall reduce India's sensitive list for Pakistan from 878 to 614 tariff lines," according to Indian government. "With the reduction, India has effectively performed its lead role in harmonising the SAFTA framework and ensuring move towards a vibrant economic community and move towards normalisation of trade relations with Pakistan," it said.
The peak tariff rates for non-LDCs would now be reduced to five per cent within three years as per agreed SAFTA process of tariff liberalisation that has been a big hurdle in promoting the intra regional trade. Shifting of items from sensitive list to general category will lead to reduction in duties and boost trade as the tariff and non-tariff barriers coupled with low connectivity has made the region more outward looking for its trade.
Under the SAFTA that came into force in July 2006 to promote intra regional trade and economic activities, India's imports are classified under two lists; the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) list and sensitive list.
India's sensitive list for least developed countries (LDC) like Nepal has just 25 items but the same for non-LDC like Pakistan contains 878 commodities.
India has, in the last one year, steered the trade liberalisation process under the agreement so as to accelerate the pace of the process for SAFTA Economic Integration.
A major step in the direction was taken in November 2011 when India unilaterally reduced its sensitive list for the LDCs to 25 items while allowing all other imports at zero basic customs duty.
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal can benefit from the reduction of sensitive list for LDCs with more liberalised trade," it said.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) that has Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Afghanistan and India as members has always been blamed for low regional integration compared to other regional blocks.

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