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Saturday, July 28, 2007

India-Pak likely to move forward in trade-talks

New Delhi July 28: Latest progress in bilateral trade which mounted from $200 million four years ago to $ 1.5 billion this year between India and Pakistan has encouraged the officials from both sides to hold more talks to tender more co-operation to each-other.

In this wake the secretary level talks are scheduled to be held on July 31 to find out the solutions for the problems in enhancing their commercial ties between two countries.

A delegation from Pakistan led by commerce secretary, Syed Asif Ali Shah will participate in two day fourth round of talks with his Indian counter part, G K Pillai.

Issues likely to make place on the table in the secretarial talks are the opening of the bank branches in each other’s country to avoid the transaction through either American or European banks which charge $220 for every transaction.

FIFO (Federation of Indian Export Organisations) also made similar suggestions that India and Pakistan should carry out mutual trade in their own currencies rather than in international ones by fixing the exchange rate.

This transaction in local currencies can be facilitated only when the branches of Indian banks are opened in Pakistan and vice versa.

Another issue to surface in the talks is related to transportation of goods and transit trade. Both the countries are willing to push the boundaries of the trade items of trade basket.

India would look at the prospect of the import of cement from Pakistan.

The issue came to the surface when Pakistan P M Shaukat Aziz discussed with Dr. Man Mohan Singh on the side lines of the SAARC meeting that Pakistan could export cement to India.

Pakistan has expressed its interest to export cement in view of the high growth in the sector in their country if India waives additional custom duty and countervailing duty.

India plans to include molasses too in the list of import items along with cement as Pakistan has got the surplus of molasses too.

The issue of opening more trade points and transit trade with central Asian countries is also likely to come up as Pakistan has refused earlier to increase the trading points.

Other trade issues joint registration of basmati rice, linking of capital markets and facilitation of business visas not addressed till yet are likely to surface.

India and Pakistan look forward for a joint geographic indicator on Basmati rice so that no other country could sell or patent any rice under basmati brand.

Indian high commission has opened in India a drop box visa application facility for businessmen to visit India and would seek the reciprocation of the step.

This is also to be known that India still seeks most favoured nation status from Pakistan who has been bestowed the same by India a long ago.

A joint study group would also meet after the secretary talks which would address the Pakistan’s grievances about high tariffs.

This round of talks is a corollary of the previous ones in which officials had talks on Sir Creek issue, Tulbul navigation project and on terrorism and human trafficking etc.

Both the nations also look forward to holding trade exhibitions. The continuous rounds of talks and the increasing trade between both countries reflect that from competitive economies they are heading towards being the complementary ones despite various hurdles.

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