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India, Pakistan agree to lay down timeline to normalize trade relations

(Xinhua)

10:19, September 29, 2011

MUMBAI, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Indian and Pakistani high-ranking officials will lay down specific timeline to normalize trade relations in November, Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Pakistani Ministry of Commerce said in a joint statement Wednesday.

Pakistani Commerce Minister Makhdoom Mohammad Amin Fahim on Wednesday held talks with his Indian counterpart Anand Sharma during his seven-day visit to India starting from Sept. 26.

Both ministers mandated their respective commerce secretaries to lay down specific timeline to normalize trade relations including dismantling of all non-tariff barriers when they meet in November.

"The ministers mandated their commerce secretaries to pursue with vigor the task of fully normalizing bilateral trade relations and agreed that their countries would cooperate for a high ambition of preferential trade relations under the framework of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA),"the statement said,

Both sides agreed to jointly work to more than double bilateral trade within three years from current 2.7 billion U.S. dollars to about six billion U.S. dollars.

India Trade Promotion Organization and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation of trade promotion activities.

Commerce secretaries from both countries are also directed to prepare the roadmap for greater preferential trade arrangements between India and Pakistan in their next meeting.

Both ministers expect bilateral business visa regime will be liberalized before November and the new business visa regime would allow multiple entry and could be for a period up to one year.

Makhdoom Mohammad Amin Fahim is the first Pakistani Commerce Minister to visit India in over 35 years, accompanied by a 50-plus- people business delegation.

The two nuclear-armed rival recently have demonstrated strong will to normalize their trade relationship and tap business potential with an eye to build mutual trust and improve bilateral ties.

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