MFN status to
India: Farmers alone in their fight against Indian imports
ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Finance has expressed
its inability to subsidise the local
agricultural sector to make it competitive with
the list of agricultural items that could be
imported from India, which farmers’ lobby say
may destroy the Pakistani agricultural industry
after implementation of the Most Favoured Nation
The government plans to grant MFN status to
India by the end of December, and, according to
the plan, land routes will be opened for trade
with India by January next year.
Sources said that the Ministry of commerce,
backed by stakeholders, had approached the
finance ministry for allocation of subsidy for
agriculture sector in the new trade policy so
that Pakistani agriculture produce becomes
competitive with Indian imports.
“However, the finance ministry has insufficient
funds due to huge subsidy being paid to the
inefficient power sector, and therefore is
reluctant to go ahead on proposed financing plan
for the agriculture sector,” sources said,
adding that since agriculture goods were
exclusive of the negative list, import duties
will be levied on them.
“Presently, gas feed stocks to fertiliser
factories are subsidised, amounting to Rs11
billion a year. However, surging oil prices and
power outages have increased the cost of
production, thus Pakistan’s agriculture sector
is not equipped well enough to able to compete
with Indian agricultural imports,” an official
of the Ministry of Food Security and Research
Growers fear they will lose in the import deal
with India. Farmers demand that major crops
should be added to the sensitive list; barring
Indian goods to shield the local sector.
Earlier, farmers alleged that the government had
not taken them on board during decision-making
on the list of bilateral trade with India.
Officials admitted that import of sugar, pulses
and red chillies will affect the domestic
“Indian farmers are enjoying huge subsidies and
therefore, the government should subsidise the
local farming sector to bring at par with the
Indian farmers,” one grower said.
Other stakeholders raised concern that granting
the MFN status to India was done without proper
cost-benefit analysis of its impact on
The official said that the government was
regulating wheat and sugar imports, therefore
they will remain unaffected.
“If trade doors are opened without taking
effective measures, and without negotiating
reciprocal treatment and negotiating market
access for Pakistan agricultural goods to India,
local farmers will be left at the mercy of
Indian growers,” a farmer said.
Courtesy: The Express Tribune