KARACHI: Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal has said Indo-Pakistan dialogue is productive and subsequent developments will be beneficial but both the countries have to walk the last mile for trade liberalisatlion.
Exchanging views with members of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) the Indian diplomat said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan. However, schedule of the visit is yet to be finalised.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s vision is to transform South Asia in a manner that the region moves from poverty to prosperity and from ignorance to a knowledgeable society with the cooperation of all neighbouring countries of India, including Pakistan,” Sabharwal asserted.
The Indian side, he said, had asked for Most Favoured Nation’s status, while Pakistani side sought removal of Non-Tariff Barriers.
Subsequently, three agreements viz-a-viz Customs Cooperation, Agreement on Mutual Recognition and Redressal of Grievances were signed which would be implemented after completion of all legal formalities to streamline bilateral trade.
One deadline for removal of restriction on though land route has passed, another deadline to dismantle negative list is coming.
He said that the Indian side was adhering to commitments and looking forward to Pakistani side for the same.
Moving further is subject to fulfillment of commitments (mentioned in the joint statement of 7th round of talks of Indo-Pak Commerce Secretaries on commercial and economic cooperation). New liberalized visa regime will be applied soon.
According to KCCI’s press release, as per joint statement of 7th round of talks of Indo-Pak Commerce Secretaries on commercial and economic cooperation, India has reduced its Safta sensitive list by 30 per cent from 878 tariff lines to 614 tariff lines.
Out of 264 tariff lines being removed, 155 tariff lines pertain to agriculture and 106 relate to textile items.
It was agreed by the Indo-Pak commerce secretaries that after Pakistan notifies removal of restriction on trade by Wagha-Attari land route, the Indian side would bring down its Safta sensitive list by 30 per cent by December keeping in view Pakistan’s export interests.
Pakistan would transition fully to MFN (non-discriminatory) status for India by December 2012 as agreed earlier. India would thereafter bring down its Safta Sensitive List to 100 tariff lines at six digit level by April, 2013.
As India notifies the reduced Sensitive List, Pakistan, after seeking approval of the Cabinet, would also simultaneously notify its dates of transition to bring down its Safta sensitive list to a maximum of 100 tariff lines at six digit level within next five years.
The reductions shall be notified by Pakistan in equal measure for each year so as to complete reduction to 100 lines before the end of 2017.
KCCI president Muhammad Haroon Agar called for expediting execution of open Indo-Pak cross-border trade from Khokrapar-Monabao Border on the pattern of Wagha-Attari.
Adequate infrastructure, modern integrated check-posts and indispensable services be planned and implemented at the earliest.
He hoped that the negative list will be dismantled before the end of 2012 and Pakistan would accord MFN status to India as well.
Both the countries would have to demonstrate same greater political will to foster relations as shown in negotiations during the last two years, he maintained.
A single country exhibition, India Expo, would be organised from Dec 21 to 23 at the Karachi Expo Centre with the collaboration of Federation of Indian Exporters Organisations (FIEO). A hall for Indian products and an international pavilion is also planned in KCCI’s 10th My-Karachi exhibition, to be organised from July 5-7, 2013.
Sindh Board of Investment Chairman and Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Mohammad Zubair Motiwala proposed to introduce mediation/arbitration committees in Mumbai and Karachi to address grievances of importers and exporters of two countries, comprising presidents of Karachi and Bombay chamber or their nominees, retired judges; and retired customs officials of commissioner level.
He said that balance of trade was tilting towards India and more people-to-people contacts were essential to channelise bilateral trade in an efficient manner.
He hoped that Pakistan would likely get GSP plus status in EU by 2014 which would also benefit India as a next door neighbour.
He said an Indian company at Rajasthan border was interested to exploit Thar coal reserves of Pakistan.