IFCC president Balbir Bajaj talking to ANI in Amritsar on Sunday.
IFCC president Balbir Bajaj talking to ANI in Amritsar on Sunday.

200 pc hike in customs duty on Pak goods will be ‘half-effective’ if illegal trade not checked, says IFCC chief Bajaj

ANI | Updated: Feb 17, 2019 17:00 IST

Amritsar (Punjab) [India], Feb 17 (ANI): IFCC, a body of businessmen doing trade with Pakistan, is not sure if the Centre’s decision to hike basic customs duty on all goods imported from Pakistan to 200 per cent will be so effective.
Speaking to ANI here on Sunday, president of Indo-Foreign Chamber of Commerce (IFCC) Balbir Bajaj said: “This step was needed, but the Central government has responded late. I feel this step is half-effective. Until the smuggling routes from Jammu and Kashmir are not closed, the trade will continue to take place.”
“The Central government should take further steps to stop illegal trade,” he said. When asked if the step would have an adverse impact on the business, Bajaj said: “The country is first. The trade is secondary. We can earn money by doing trade with another country. Trade with Pakistan is not that mandatory.” 
“The way the trade is conducted across the border has changed over the years. It involves hawala transactions and illegal smuggling now. It is necessary for the government to take action against those behind these practices to make Pakistan feel the pinch of not having India’s MFN status,” said a local trader.
India on Saturday hiked basic customs duty on all goods imported from Pakistan to 200 per cent in the wake of Pulwama terror attack. “The decision comes into force with immediate effect,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said on Saturday.
“India has withdrawn MFN status to Pakistan after the Pulwama incident. Upon withdrawal, basic customs duty on all goods exported from Pakistan to India has been raised to 200% with immediate effect,” Finance Minister Jaitley had tweeted.
Indian on Friday had withdrawn the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status accorded to Pakistan a day after the dastardly terror attack on CRPF’s convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district in which as many as 40 jawans were killed.
Finance Minister Jaitley while addressing media persons after the conclusion of Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg on Friday, had announced the withdrawal of MFN status to Pakistan.
The MFN status was given by India in 1996. The MFN status is given to an international trade partner to ensure non-discriminatory trade between all partner countries of the World Trade Oganisation (WTO).
A country which provides MFN status to another country has to provide concessions, privileges, and immunity in trade agreements. It is the first clause in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). However, Pakistan never reciprocated to India’s MFN gesture.
As per an estimate, bilateral trade between India and Pakistan had marginally increased to the US $ 2.41 billion in 2017-18 as compared to the US $ 2.27 billion in 2016-17. New Delhi had imported goods worth the US $ 488.5 million in 2017-18, and had exported goods to the tune of US $ 1.92 billion during the period under review. (ANI)