LAHORE - As the government is all set to grant status of Non-Discriminatory Market Access to India, claiming that all stakeholders are on board, the industry representatives have defied the assertion and said that Ministry of Commerce’s so-called consultation with them is just an eye wash.

They said that Ministry of Commerce consultation process is just a formality as the all major industrial bodies were given a timeframe of just 48 hours to submit proposals on MFN issue at a time when their leadership was abroad.

“Numerous industrial zones in India offer concessions to promote the industry while in Pakistan there are frequent and prolonged energy outages, and the production capacities remain un-utilized across the board, increasing the production costs for the majority of those SMEs which do not have resources to set up captive plants,” they pointed out. They said that countries like India, Thailand, Malaysia and even Japan protect their local industries by imposing heavy duties to discourage imports.

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In a letter written to Bilal Khan Pasha, Deputy Secretary Ministry of Commence, PAAPAM Chairman Usman Malik, said that in his absence a delegation of auto parts vendors’ senior members met with Ministry officials and expressed reservations on MFN status to India in informal and preliminary talks but government seems to fully determined to grant the NDMA to India without considering the reservations of its own industry.

He reminded the authorities that Pakistan’s auto industry is not prepared for phasing out negative list, as our government has not carried out administrative and organizational changes in their internal systems for gearing up to the onslaught of Indian products.

He said that auto industry welcomed trade liberalization with India but it has some reservations about import of certain finished products which are also produced in Pakistan. If country imports finished products at concessionary duties, the growth of local industry will come to a halt, he claimed. However, we support the import of machinery and raw materials but do not want Pakistan to become a market for Indian finished goods, as India should not be allowed to use Pakistan as a dumping ground for its products, he added.

He stated that if the restriction on imports of auto parts are lifted, business of local manufacturers would be adversely affected, turning Pakistan into states like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, which have no auto industry base, mainly due to huge influx of used cars imports from India. He added that the Ministry of Industries has already admitted that Pakistan’s domestic industry was in a gross comparative disadvantage position in terms of energy and access to credit.