ISLAMABAD - Scholars unanimously showed consensus that Pakistan should grant the MFN status to India being a member of WTO (World Trade Organization) to boost bilateral trade between the two countries.Speaking at a one-day conference on Pakistan-India Trade Cooperation: Challenges and Opportunities organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) on Wednesday, the scholars also highlighted the benefits and impediments of bilateral trade Pak-India relations. Economic scholar and businessman, Dr. Kamal Monnoo, Member, IPRI Board of Governors, said that only a carefully thought out process of negotiations and a comprehensive package of agreements followed by a sound monitoring & management mechanism which was practical, efficient and comprehensively addressed longstanding concerns of both the sides could bring about a win-win position for the two countries. Also, he added that trade liberalization would speed up normalization. He said that granting MFN status to India was not a favour or leverage but a requisite. As India granted MFN to Pakistan back in 1995 and Pakistan had also granted it to other states as well as a member of WTO. Dr. Zafar Mahmood from PIDE, Quaid-i-Azam University also added that granting MFN was not a new thing, Pakistan and India had this status from 1948-1965. It was not a CBM but a part of the trade linkages with any state. He further added that trade cooperation should be signed after granting MFN status to India. He emphasized on the need of granting MFN to India which would be beneficial for Pakistan in revenue generation, improved competitiveness, FDI inflows, BOP improvement and surge in intra-industry trade. He also delineated impediments to trade cooperation, which mainly include non-granting of MFN status by Pakistan, high tariffs and para-tariffs as well as NTMs, smuggling and misinvoicing etc. Dr Mahmood also suggested that Pakistan should show vigilance in assigning the role of marketing intelligence collection to commercial attaché in India, as India was quite active in this regard. Similarly, Pakistan should not adopt defencive economic policies and ask India to remove Pakistan-centric NTMs. He further said that India could be used as a bargain counter in trade with other states. Dr. Mahmood concluded that bilateral trade relations by entering into a trade cooperation agreement with India would help in expanding the existing industrial strength of Pakistan. Salma Malik, Assistant Professor, QAU said that economics should be used as a tool by Pakistan to get prominent and strengthened position in the region. Moreover, she said that fragility of Pak-India relations in terms of physical security which directly affect all the other spheres could not be ignored. Recent tension at LOC ignited by a minor skirmish which could have ended up in some serious conflict was one example. She also added that media of both sides should not be used as a medium for creating hype and chaos on little incidences. Dr Kamal Monnoo, said that cheap consumer imports from India would help tame inflation at home. Dr Monnoo also mentioned three agreements signed in September 2012 which have changed the trade scenario. These are; First, Customs Cooperation Agreement, to avoid arbitrary stoppages of goods at each other’s ports and facilitate bilateral trade. Second, Mutual Recognition Agreement, for acceptance of certificates of internationally accredited laboratories, and seek harmonization in each other’s standards and certifications. And third, Redressal of Grievances Agreement, for resolving matters in case of any disagreements. According to him, another agreement between the Export Inspection Council of India and Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority was also likely to be signed soon. He concluded that economic interdependence of bilateral trade relations between Pakistan and India would not only be beneficial for the economies of the countries but also sped up normalization. However if it leads to cooperation in infrastructure developments it would give permanence to good neighbourly relations. Acting President, Dr, Noor-ul-Haq, thanked the speakers and audiences for their participation.