After a two-year gap, Pakistan and India have decided to hold technical level talks next month for the removal of hindrances for increasing bilateral trade.
The Indian Commerce Secretary will visit Pakistan towards the end of April to resume talks on trade issues, which remained stalled following the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, the Dawn quoted a senior official, as saying.
When contacted, Pakistan Commerce Secretary Zaffar Mehmood confirmed that his Indian counterpart would visit Pakistan, but said that he did not know about the exact dates of the visit.
According to the official, Pakistan had already set a stage for the resumption of talks, especially on trade, as the government unilaterally expanded the ‘positive list’ with India last month.
“This will provide a solid base for full-fledge resumption of the composite dialogue that was effectively used by New Delhi in seeking maximum market access for Indian products in Pakistani market,” the official commented.
The proposed meeting of the Interior Secretaries of both countries next week in New Delhi will also pave the way for the trade talks.
These two highest-level talks will set a stage for a full-fledged meeting on all issues at the foreign ministers-level meeting expected to be held in July.
A trade source said that Pakistan might raise the issue of non- tariff barriers (NTBs) on the plea that these barriers restrict the export of Pakistani essential commodities to the highly protected Indian market.
A customs officer said that reductions in customs duties would not serve any purpose in increasing the regional trade until these NTBs are removed.
Pakistan is trading with India through a positive list, a list of products importable from India.
The positive list included 42 items for trading in the year 1986, which was expanded to 1,145 items in the year 2011, showing that Pakistan has diverted its global trade towards India in the past few years.