Pakistan, India ink three trade agreements
22 September, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Three trade agreements were signed between Pakistan and India under commerce secretaries Munir Qureshi and SR Rao on Friday.
The agreements were signed at the end of the 7th Round of Pakistan-India commerce secretary-level talks on economic and commercial cooperation, from September 20-21.
The accords include redressal of trade grievances and agreement between the neighbouring countries on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters.
A bilateral cooperation agreement between Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority, Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Bureau of Indian Standards Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution was also singed.
According to a joint statement issued at the end of talks, both sides expressed satisfaction with the progress made in the bilateral trade relationship.
The transition towards full normalisation of trade relations with India was initiated by moving from a 'positive list' regime to a 'negative list' regime. Following the visit of Commerce Minister Shri Anand Sharma to Pakistan in February 2012, Pakistan notified its negative list on March 20.
Commerce secretaries noted that better trading opportunities through land route would enhance mutual prosperity of the business communities and consumers on both sides of the border.
They directed the customs and the port authorities to resolve all issues through mutual cooperation, harmonisation of customs procedures, provision of laboratory facilities, scanners, weigh bridges, cold houses, containerised services and automation of the business processes.
It was decided that for this purpose, meetings of the Customs Liaison Border Committee (CLBC) would be held on monthly basis.
The need for more trade traffic to be carried through railways was also emphasised.
On exploring the possibilities of opening new land routes for trade, Pakistani side said that a working group on Munabhao-Khokhrapar has been constituted.
India has already constituted a working group. It was agreed that meeting of the Joint Working Group on Munabhao-Khokhrapar would be held in the fourth week of October, 2012, at New Delhi.
Both sides appreciated the recent signing of the new liberalised bilateral visa regime, which fulfilled a long-pending demand of business communities to ensure a better enabling environment for bilateral trade.
Pakistan side also appreciated the recent measures taken by India to remove its earlier restrictions on inbound and outbound investments to Pakistan.
Both sides expressed satisfaction on signing of the Redressal of Trade Grievances Agreement, the Mutual Recognition Agreement and the Customs Cooperation Agreement.
The commerce secretaries also reviewed the progress on other issues such as enhanced trade in petroleum products, power, and reciprocal opening of bank branches.
Pakistani side emphasised the importance of taking SMEs along in the trade normalisation process. It highlighted that sectors like surgical instruments, cutlery, fans, leather and marble products have a huge potential for trade. Preliminary discussions were also held on possibilities of better telecommunication linkages keeping in view the requirements of business communities on both sides for international roaming facilities.
Both sides also reviewed the earlier discussed possibilities of greater trade cooperation in sectors of agriculture and information technology.