India hikes import duty on Pakistani goods to 200 pc

PTI

File photo of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley  addressing media. Photo - PTI

File photo of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressing media.
Photo – PTI

Taking strong economic action against Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack, India on Saturday raised the customs duty to 200 per cent on all goods imported from the neighbouring country, including fresh fruits, cement, petroleum products and mineral ore.

The decision would significantly hit Pakistan’s exports to India, which stood at USD 488.5 million (around Rs 3,482.3 crore) in 2017-18 as it would drastically increase the prices of its goods here.

“India has withdrawn MFN (most favoured nation) status to Pakistan after the Pulwama incident.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 per cent with immediate effect,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a tweet.

The two main items imported from Pakistan are fruits and cement, on which the current customs duty is 30-50 per cent and 7.5 per cent, respectively.

Slapping an import duty of 200 per cent effectively means almost banning the imports from Pakistan, official sources said.

India on Friday revoked the MFN status to Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack. The country invoked a security exception clause of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to withdraw this status. Both countries are a member of this organisation.

India can also restrict trade of certain goods and impose port-related restrictions on Pakistani goods.

Items which Pakistan exports to India include fresh fruits, cement, petroleum products, bulk minerals and ores, finished leather, processed minerals, inorganic chemicals, cotton raw, spices, wool, rubber product, alcoholic beverages, medical instruments, marine goods, plastic, dyes and sport goods.

India granted the MFN status to Pakistan way back in 1996, but the neighbouring country had not reciprocated.

Under the MFN pact, a WTO member country is obliged to treat the other trading nation in a non-discriminatory manner, especially with regard to customs duty and other levies.

In 2012, Pakistan had committed to giving the MFN status to India but retracted later due to domestic opposition. Instead of MFN, Pakistan said it was working on granting Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) status to India but that also was not announced.

Total India-Pakistan trade has increased marginally to USD 2.41 billion in 2017-18 as against USD 2.27 billion in 2016-17. India imported goods worth USD 488.5 million in 2017-18 and exported goods worth USD 1.92 billion.

During April-October 2018-19, India’s exports to Pakistan stood at USD 1.18 billion, while imports were USD 338.66 billion.

India mainly exports raw cotton, cotton yarn, chemicals, plastics, manmade yarn and dyes to Pakistan.

At least 40 CRPF personnel were killed and five injured on Thursday in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kgs of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district.

(PTI)