Pakistan on Thursday claimed India had assured Islamabad that it would not make any further comment at the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Council for Trade in Goods on the time-bound European Union (E.U.) waiver on trade preferences that was offered to Pakistan to help recover from last year's devastating floods.

Asked about India's continuing opposition to the E.U. waiver, Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said the Indian leadership, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had assured Pakistan that it would refrain from comment at future WTO meetings on the issue.

The first such assurance was given in March when Dr. Singh met his Pakistani counterpart at Mohali for the India-Pakistan cricket World Cup semi-final match and then again during Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar's visit in July.

Seeking to set the record straight on the issue, the spokesperson said the delay now in getting WTO clearance for the waiver was because a couple of other countries had raised questions and made some comments. “Since the WTO works on consensus, these have to be thrashed out” and Pakistan was hopeful of doing so before the next meeting of the Council for Trade in Goods next month. She did not name which countries were still opposing the waiver.

When the Council for Trade in Goods discussed the waiver in November last year, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Peru - while sympathizing with Pakistan - expressed systemic concerns with the E.U. request in terms of possible implications on the multilateral trading system and to similar exports of developing countries. India's contention was that it would affect textile workers in other developing countries. New Delhi also questioned the benefits of such a short-term programme to Pakistan.

The E.U. waiver seeks to extend duty-free treatment to 67 products including dried mushrooms, gloves, cotton yarn, dresses and shoes besides tariff-rate quotas for another eight products, including ethanol, from Pakistan for a two-year period. These products, by E.U. calculation, amounts to almost 900 million Euros in import value, accounting for about 27 per cent of E.U. imports from Pakistan.

Delhi blast

Meanwhile, Pakistan was also appreciative of the maturity shown by the Indian leadership in not rushing to point accusing fingers after the Delhi High Court blast on Wednesday.

Chinese aid to PoK

As for concerns expressed in the Indian Parliament about the development of infrastructure by China in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Ms. Janjua said: “Development of any region of Pakistan is within the sovereign right of this country and ‘AJK' (Azad Jammu & Kashmir). Who the ‘AJK' Government seeks to collaborate with for development of their region is a decision for them to take. At the same time, we appreciate Chinese help in the development of ‘AJK' and other parts of Pakistan.''

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