India, Pakistan seek to better trade ties

August 24th, 2011 - 8:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) India and Pakistan are holding three-day joint secretary- level talks here with a view to boosting bilateral trade and investment and strengthening economic ties, officials said Wednesday.

The two delegations at the three-day talks that began Tuesday are led by Arvind Mehta, a joint secretary at India’s ministry of commerce and industry, and Rubina Ather, joint secretary of ministry of commerce of Pakistan.

Removing trade barriers and spelling out a list of products that the two countries don’t want to trade in is on top of the agenda of the meeting, sources said.

The officials are also discussing the blueprint signed by commerce secretaries of the two countries in April this year. The blueprint seeks to allow non-discriminatory trade with India by extending the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status, permitting trade of petroleum products and electricity, and removal of non-tariff barriers by India.

Pakistan, in principle, has agreed to move from ‘positive list’ to ‘negative list’ trade regime with India as required under the conventions of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya M. Scindia said Wednesday.

“Pakistan has also recognised that grant of Most Favoured Nation status to India would help in expanding the bilateral trade relations,” Scindia said in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.

Pakistan maintains a ‘positive list’ of 1,945 items which are allowed to be imported from India. Under SAFTA, Pakistan operates a sensitive list (negative list) of 1,169 items.

New Delhi has asked Islamabad to prepare the negative list of items that it does not want to import from India.

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