India and Pakistan have agreed to revive all committees that were set up before the Mumbai attack so as to resume measures to facilitate trade, a media report said. Indian Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar and his Pakistan counterpart Zafar Mahmood led the April 27-28 talks aimed at boosting business between the two countries. Khullar said trade should be significantly promoted. “This is a process that was interrupted and that must resume and go on. It must acquire significantly fast momentum if only to catch up for the time that we have lost,” Dawn quoted Khullar as saying.
Trade talks were suspended in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 that left 166 people dead. India-Pakistan ties were considerably strained following the terror attack. The report said both countries agreed to revive all those committees/working groups that were constituted before the Mumbai attack so as to resume work on measures for facilitation and promotion of trade. There is potential for bilateral trade to go up to an estimated $6.5 billion from the current $2 billion.
On the second day of the talks, India may seek ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status and broach the possibility of exporting electricity and petroleum products.
Dawn quoted sources as saying that the Indian delegation had agreed to eliminate all Pakistan-specific non-tariff barriers (NTBs). Pakistan wants India to remove several NTBs. Indian officials have, however, maintained that there exist no Pakistan-specific NTBs, saying they are for all imported goods.
They have agreed to exchange a list of 20 products for export and worked out procedures for their trade facilitation.
A decision was also taken to revive the geographical indication (GI) joint working group to resolve a row over the ownership of super basmati rice. “A meeting of the group will be convened much before June 15 to discuss the issue.”
The Indians told their counterparts that a sum of Rs.1.5 billion has allocated for developing infrastructure at the Wagah border. “The Indian government is determined to promote trade at the Wagah border,” sources said, quoting an Indian official.
Zafar Mahmood said the talks had an “open agenda” and they would discuss “all the issues” of interest. “I believe that this meeting will take the dialogue process forward and by the end of the meeting all issues relating to facilitation and promotion of bilateral trade could be addressed with consensus,” he was quoted as saying.