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Indo-Pak trade talks begin on July 31

30 July, 2007

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NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan will hold 2-day talks from Tuesday at commerce secretaries` level to diversify the trade basket and resolve issues that stand in the way of closer economic engagement. A 12-member delegation from Pakistan, led by Commerce Secretary Syed Asif Ali Shah, will arrive here July 30 to hold the talks.

Part of the fourth round of the composite dialogue that will focus on easing of trade restrictions, joint patent registration of basmati rice, the opening of bank branches in each other's country and export of cement by Pakistan to India.

The Indian side will be led by Commerce Secretary G.K. Pillai. A meeting of the joint study group will follow the talks on trade on August 2. Issues related to the transportation of goods and transit trade, establishing linkages between capital markets, and liberalising the visa regime for travelling businessmen will also be discussed. The two sides are also expected to discuss holding trade exhibitions for showcasing their products.

The issue of including cement in bilateral trade will figure prominently in the talks. Pakistan had recently shown interest in supplying cement to India after countervailing duty and additional custom duties were cut. Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz took up the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the Saarc summit here in April.

Procedural delays, including a tortuous Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification process are currently blocking cement export from Pakistan.

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