India and Pak to sign custom deal soon: Anand Sharma
Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma Tuesday in a seminar said that India and Pakistan would soon sign deals for cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters and redressal of trade grievances within few weeks in the move to substantially boosting trade and strengthening economic relations between the two neighbouring countries.
"These agreements will be signed soon. It's a matter of weeks," Sharma said at India-Pakistan Parliamentary Dialogue meeting organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here.
The two countries had signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) in February for cooperation in customs matters, bilateral cooperation agreement on mutual recognition between Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
An agreement on redressing of trade grievances was also signed between them.
"All these three agreements will be signed and implemented soon," said Sharma.
The MoUs were signed in February when Anand Sharma led the largest Indian business delegation visit to Pakistan.
Sharma told the Pakistani parliamentarians that the signing of the agreements had been delayed because of the change in key bureaucratic positions in the commerce ministries of India and Pakistan.
"We have new commerce secretary, Pakistan has new commerce secretary. So it is taking some time," he said.
S R Rao was appointed India's new commerce secretary in May, following the retirement of Rahul Khullar, who was spearheading business and trade talks between the two countries.
Sharma said India was committed to remove tariffs and non-tariffs barriers to boost bilateral trade with Pakistan.
"If Pakistan takes one step, India will always take two steps," the commerce and industry minister said.
The minister pointed out that India recently cut sensitive list of items under the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) by 30 percent, in a bid to allow more number of goods to be imported from Pakistan.
"We have reduced SAFTA sensitive list by 30 percent. This will benefit only Pakistan," he said.
India recently announced that it has taken out 264 items from the sensitive list under SAFTA. This move will benefit Pakistan's exporters.
For least developed countries of SAARC like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, India maintains a sensitive list of just 25 items.
The minister said granting of most favoured nation (MFN) status to India by Pakistan is a very positive step and would substantially boost the tradeable items between the two countries.
--With IANS Inputs--
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