Indian, Pakistani commerce ministers to meet in September

August 23rd, 2011 - 5:17 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS) Building upon last month’s positive talks, the commerce ministers of India and Pakistan are set to hold discussions here in September that could lead to Islamabad giving New Delhi the long-overdue Most Favoured Nation status.

Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Muhammad Ameen Faheem is expected to come here around mid-September and will hold talks with his Indian counterpart Anand Sharma.

Ahead of Faheem’s visit, the joint secretaries (commerce) of India and Pakistan will hold a meeting here Wednesday. Rubina Athers, Pakistan’s joint secretary (commerce), is in India leading a six-member delegation comprising trade officials.

Besides the prospects of India getting MFN status, the two sides will also discuss the possibilities of India allowing Pakistani foreign direct investment in the country.

India is expecting Pakistan to come out with a positive list, and narrow down the ‘negative list’ of about 200 items, reliable sources said.

The MFN status for India could be a critical step in expanding untapped trade ties between the two countries whose relations have been marred by a host of issues, including terrorism.

The MFN would benefit a range of Indian products, including textiles, cotton, vegetables, coffee, tea and spices.

Pakistan, on its part, is expecting India to remove non-tariff barriers that restrict imports from that country.

Trade liberalization figured prominently in discussions between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan nearly a month ago.

India-Pakistan trade was estimated to be $1.85 billion in 2009-10. Indian exports accounted for $1.78 billion.

In April-December 2010, bilateral trade is estimated to have gone up to over $3 billion with India’s exports at $1.7 billion.

A study by Delhi-based Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations estimates that given reciprocal concessions bilateral trade between India and Pakistan could go up to $14.3 billion, with India exporting about $11 billion and Pakistan importing goods worth $3 billion.

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