India, Pakistan agree to further liberalise trade flows with tentative moves
New Delhi, Sep 29 (ANI): India and Pakistan have agreed to further liberalise trade flows with tentative moves such as opening a second customs post and issuing more visas.
Talking to mediapersons at a joint press conference here, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Muhammad Amin Fahim pointed out the steps have been proposed to strengthen economic ties between the two nations.
Sharma said the both countries have decided to raise the amount of bilateral trade that presently exists between the two countries.
"We have agreed to ensure that there is further liberalisation for trade regimes and to double the bilateral trade from the present 2.7 billion to six billion dollars within the next three years. We remain optimistic that the steps that we have taken and the steps which are in the pipeline will lead to realization of this target maybe earlier. The expert groups have been established for trade in all types of petroleum products and the first meeting of the joint groups will be soon," he said.
The two sides agreed to open a second customs point by October or November on what is one of the world's most heavily militarised borders, as well as implementing a new business visa regime by November this year. Currently restrictive trading hours on the border would also be extended.
" Confederation of Indian Industries and Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry) have been advised to take the business delegations to Pakistan. We have also advised the apex chambers of industry and commerce to work closely together and ensure that there is a structured format of exchange of business leaders. We have discussed the issue of multiple entries business visas for multiple locations and a formal and correct decision can be expected very soon," he said.
Sharma further said the Attari Wagah border between the two nations would be upgraded so that it can turn into a new business hotspot for bilateral trade.
"The infrastructure at Attari Wagah border is being strengthened. We are spending from our side Rs. 150 crores. The second gate will be constructed and be ready for opening by end of October or early November. The trading hours will be extended from 7 am to 7 pm in summers and 7am to 5pm during winters," he said.
Pakistan also pledged to significantly increase the number of goods India will be allowed to export to its neighbour soon, including petroleum products, although officials declined to give a deadline for when this would happen.
Fahim, on his part, said an invitation to the Indian Commerce Minister for a visit to Pakistan stands as the Secretaries of Commerce of both the countries are scheduled to meet in November.
"I hope that after this, secretaries of both the governments will meet in November and they will proceed further in details. And I have requested Sharma Sahab to come and visit Pakistan before the meeting. So one day I hope he will be coming before the meeting. And during that meeting according to the announcement that is made by our friend, things will be proceeding towards the final decision and we will be in a position to come to conclusion," he said.
Fahim further stated that Pakistan was open in all respects to improve its ties with its neighbour. (ANI)
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