India, Pak likely to launch cross-border trade from next month

September 22nd, 2008 - 7:52 pm ICT by ANI  

Manmohan Singh

Islamabad, Sept.22 (ANI): India and Pakistan have reportedly finalised the modalities for facilitating cross-border trade through the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkot routes from next month.
Officials of the two countries finalised the modalities on Monday, including the list of items that would be traded. A final decision on when this trade along these two routes will start, will be taken after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in New York.
“We have finalised the modalities… We will submit it to our principals, our bosses.. Hopefully, it will work out,” Pakistan’’s Additional Secretary Aijaz Ahmed Chowdhury told reporters here after the meeting.
In July, Foreign Secretaries of the two countries — Salman Bashir and Shiv Shankar Menon — had exchanged lists of commodities with zero tariff regime and to begin implementation, each side had agreed to indicate the items they were willing to receive.
A delegation of Chambers of Commerce from Muzaffarabad is expected to undertake a visit to Srinagar and Jammu after a month to discuss various aspects related to the trade, sources close to Monday’’s negotiations here, said.
The meeting of the Chambers of the two sides is essential as they actually have to engage in trade, they said.
India has been keen on launching the cross-LoC trade since the bus service was launched on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route in April 2005 but the two countries had so far failed to reach a consensus on issues like items to be traded.
Pakistan also has been non-cooperative in enabling Chambers of Commerce of Srinagar and Muzaffarabad preventing them from discussing modalities for trade.
In fact, India had invited business delegation from Muzaffarabad to visit Srinagar and Jammu from on Monday but there was no response from the other side. Pakistan has on Monday agreed to send the delegation after a month. (ANI with inputs)

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