India, Pakistan agree to work out modalities to open trade in petroleum, energy, commodities

New Delhi: India and Pakistan on Thursday agreed to work out modalities to open trade in the petroleum sector, energy and commodities as well as opening up of banking sector and cross-border investments, Press Trust of India PTI reported.

Speaking at India-Pakistan Business conclave organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry FICCI here, Indian Commerce & Industry Minister Anand Sharma said he had accepted the invitation extended by Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and a high-level business delegation led by him will visit Pakistan in November this year to give a fillip to economic relations and cooperation.

“Both of us agreed that a meaningful economic engagement necessarily requires greater movement of business people and there is a need for liberalising business visa regime. We have urged concerned officials on both sides to expeditiously conclude liberal business visa regime by November,” he said.

Sharma said Fahim had recognized that grant of MFN status to India would be a key step in expanding bilateral trade relations. “We hope Mr. Fahim would carry home message of goodwill from Indian business community and secure political mandate for greater trade liberalization with India,” he said. He stressed need to look afresh and work together to change the paradigm.

He urged Mr. Fahim to lend his leadership to providing new life and energy to process of SAARC economic integration. “India will reciprocate in equal measure. I heard Commerce Secretary of Pakistan saying that we should aspire for an economic community which links SAARC with ASEAN. It is indeed a bold vision and we must strive towards achieving this objective.”

Sharma said trade in petroleum, energy and commodities would be significant steps for building long-term stake in each other’s economy. “Strengthening border infrastructure remains a high priority for us. Integrated Check Post which is being constructed at Attari-Wagah Border at cost of Rs.150 crore will be operational by end of current year.”

Fahim expressed optimism at dawn of a new era of trade and investment relations with India as both countries are now poised to open bank branches and land routes. He said SAFTA would enter into negotiations with ASEAN to create a bigger block, thus having ASEAN as a partner, on the East and ECOTA, which has Turkey and Central Asia, on the West.

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