India, Pakistan to discuss fresh timeline for trade liberalisation
Minister for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman will meet her Pakistani counterpart Khurram Dastgir Khan for the first time next month to discuss a fresh roadmap for removing bottlenecks in liberalisation of bilateral trade.
The meeting between Sitharaman and Khan will take place on the sidelines of SAFTA Ministerial Council in Bhutan on 24 July.
‘I will meet the Indian state minister for commerce for resumption of bilateral trade talks,’ Khan was quoted as saying.
It will be first high level trade interaction since the BJP came to power.
An official of commerce ministry told PTI that trade liberalisation will be on the top of the agenda when the commerce ministers meet.
‘We missed an early deadline of 31 December, 2012 to remove all hurdles in the trade relations. Now the two governments will try to agree on fresh roadmap for it,’ he said.
He said India should address concerns of business community in Pakistan regarding non-tariff barriers and other issues which could impact export after trade liberalisation.
The two ministers will also discuss the agreements signed in 2012 to remove bottlenecks in trade facilitation.
Pakistan has already modified the politically sensitive issue of Most-Favoured Nation status to India by changing it to Non-Discriminatory (NDA).
It would also take up the issues of further trimming of the sensitive list, removing visa restrictions, allowing of banking channels and mobile connectivity, he said.
In 2012, Pakistan expanded the list of items tradable with India from 1,918 items to 5,800. Only 1,209 items now remain on the negative list.
Pakistan has 936 items on the sensitive list and India 614. It will be second meeting of Pakistan’s commerce minister with the Indian side after his visit in January during the tenure of the previous UPA government.