Indian minister to arrive in Pakistan Monday


Indian trade delegation led by its Commerce Minister Anand Sharma will arrive in Pakistan on Monday for talks to further develop trade relations.
According to sources in Commerce Ministry the Indian delegation will arrive in Lahore via Wahga border and will Islamabad on February 15.
The Indian Minister’s visit would signify follow up of his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Amin Fahim’s last year visit to India as well as review and discuss trade normalization process between two countries.
According to the ministry, the delegation will also visit Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad and meet with business community to exchange views regarding trade and business between the two countries.
The Commerce Minister visited India along with 80-member delegation of leading Pakistani businessmen in September. This was the first visit of any Pakistani commerce minister in last almost 30 years.
The exchange of trade delegations between India and Pakistan has already generated huge interest in the both countries as it is billed to help break the non-tariff and tariff barriers between two largest south Asian economies. The visit is a sequel to commerce secretary level talks that resumed in April last year.
Indirect trade between the two countries via Dubai and other stations is not small but the direct trade between India and Pakistan constitute less than one per cent of their respective global trade. India exported goods worth $2.33 billion to Pakistan last year while its imports from the country were a mere $330 million.
While Islamabad maintains a positive list of less than 2000 items that can be traded officially, New Delhi has erected non-tariff barriers to restrict imports from Pakistan.
Pakistan’s cabinet last year approved in principle to give MFN (most favourite nation) status to India subject to elimination of non-tariff barriers against its exports.
In return for dismantling of non-tariff barriers to its exports, Islamabad has agreed to
switch over to a negative list of items soon.
The delegations of Indian and Pakistani officials as well as parliamentarians in their visits to Islamabad and New Delhi were stressing revamping laws and procedures for trade between the two countries.
According to media reports India has agreed to sign three pacts – customs cooperation, mutual recognition agreements on quality certification and grievances redressing mechanism – for the removal of non-tariff barriers. But only the first pact is ready as India has some problems with the Pakistani draft on grievances redressing and has prepared a counter-draft.