Islamabad: The Commerce Secretaries of India and Pakistan began two-day talks here today, with discussions focussing on three pacts to facilitate bilateral trade and cooperation in new areas like the opening of bank branches.
The meeting between an Indian delegation led by Commerce Secretary S R Rao and the Pakistani side headed by Commerce Secretary Munir Qureshi marked the first round of talks in the new phase of the bilateral dialogue.
The foreign ministers of the two sides reviewed the last round of the dialogue during a meeting here early this month.
The two sides are expected to sign three agreements to facilitate bilateral trade tomorrow, official sources told PTI.
These are an agreement for cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters, an agreement to redress trade grievances and an agreement for cooperation between the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority and the Bureau of Indian Standards.
During talks, the two sides finalised these agreements. They discussed new areas of cooperation, such as opening of bank branches, removal of restrictions on investments, air services and trade in energy and petroleum products.
Both sides discussed the phasing out of the negative list regime for trade, which will pave the way for Pakistan to grant Most Favoured Nation-status to India by the beginning of next year.
They also reviewed the implementation of decisions made in the last round of talks held in November last year, the sources said. The Pakistani side raised its concerns about what it described as Pakistan-specific "non-tariff barriers", they said.
The Commerce Secretaries said the two sides were committed to enhancing the volume of bilateral trade.
Pakistani Commerce Secretary Qureshi said both sides are pursuing a positive policy to remove hurdles to trade.
His Indian counterpart said the talks are aimed at bringing the business community of both countries closer to each other.