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Pakistan, India agree to promote trade relations

15 April, 2012

NEW DELHI: Pakistan and India on Saturday agreed to promote their trade and economic relations for the benefit of business community and consumers of the two countries.

The agreement was reached during a meeting of commerce ministers of the two countries. Commerce Minister Makhdoom Mohammad Amin Fahim is in New Delhi on the invitation of his Indian counterpart Anand Sharma.

In a joint statement following talks between the two, both Pakistan and India expressed satisfaction that the transition process for complete normalisation of the trading of goods and services, including investment, has started.

They said there had been a substantial increase in the list of commodities permitted to be imported from India. This was the third bilateral meeting between the two commerce ministers in less than seven months. The two sides also reviewed the progress made on the decisions that had already been taken.

Pakistan and India expressed their satisfaction at the joint and coordinated efforts that had been made to make new gates at the Attari Integrated Checkpost (ICP) functional for trade. They hoped that new arrangements would help streamline movement of trucks across the border and enhance the flow of trade through the land route.

ICP will enable a substantial increase in the movement of goods across the border. Also, it will now be possible for trade to be conducted over longer hours during any working day.

It was agreed that Pakistan would take necessary steps to remove extant restrictions on items permitted to be imported through the land route. The objective is to permit all items not in the Negative List to be traded across the Wagah border.

Pakistan side stated that through a cabinet decision in 2009, the flow of items is linked to provision of adequate infrastructure at the checkpost and it would take the case to the cabinet on the basis of the additional capacity created through the ICP.

The ministers expressed the wish that discussions might continue at the official level for possibilities of opening more land customs stations between both countries. This, they said, would enhance greater economic engagement between business communities of both sides and deepen bilateral cooperation for mutual prosperity of their people.

It was agreed that discussions would continue at the official level to draw a roadmap for further reductions in South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) sensitive lists. While reducing SAFTA lists, both sides would appropriately consider requests received for tariff lines to be removed.

On issues of trade in petroleum products and electricity, the ministers said that officials concerned of both the countries should fast track the ongoing process.

It was also noted that the respective central banks were examining issues related to opening of bank branches in each other's countries.

The ministers agreed that the process of issuing business visas needed to be liberalised at the earliest. They noted that a formal decision on this was expected at the forthcoming meeting of the home secretary of India and interior secretary of Pakistan.

The ministers noted the considerable support, which had been provided by chambers of commerce and industry on both sides to fast track the growing economic engagement between Pakistan and India.

In line with this process, the ministers took a decision that Joint Business Council might be constituted to provide an additional institutional framework for regular and sustained dialogue between business communities.

End.

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