India, Pakistan seek to better trade ties

New Delhi: India and Pakistan are holding three-day joint secretary- level talks here with a view to boosting bilateral trade and investment and strengthening economic ties, officials said Wednesday, Indo Asian News Service IANS reported.

The two delegations at three-day talks that began Tuesday are led by Arvind Mehta, a joint secretary at India’s ministry of commerce & industry, and Rubina Ather, joint secretary of Pakistan’s Commerce Ministry. Removing trade barriers and spelling out a list of products that the two countries don’t want to trade in is on top of agenda of the meeting, sources said.

The officials are also discussing blueprint signed by Commerce secretaries of two countries in April this year. The blueprint seeks to allow non-discriminatory trade with India by extending Most Favoured Nation status, permitting trade of petroleum products and electricity, and removal of non-tariff barriers by India.

Pakistan, in principle, has agreed to move from positive list to negative list trade regime with India as required under the conventions of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), State Minister for Commerce & Industry Jyotiraditya M. Scindia said Wednesday.

“Pakistan has also recognized that grant of Most Favoured Nation status to India would help in expanding bilateral trade relations,” Scindia said in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.

Pakistan maintains positive list of 1,945 items which are allowed to be imported from India. Under SAFTA, Pakistan operates a sensitive list (negative list) of 1,169 items. New Delhi asked Islamabad to prepare negative list of items that it does not want to import from India.

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