ISLAMABAD– Pakistan and India on Friday signed three agreements to boost bilateral trade and emphasised the need for elimination of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) faced by exporters and importers of both the sides.
“These agreements are expected to substantially facilitate bilateral trade mechanisms,” a joint statement issued after the commerce secretary-level talks said.
The Indian delegation was led by SR Rao while the Pakistan side was led by Munir Qureshi.
Speaking at the event, Qureshi highlighted that certifications, licencing, and lab testing were not the only NTBs but issues like delays in customs clearance, non-availability of railway wagons for cargo transport and absence of direct flights or any problem, which delayed the clearance of goods with no end results or change, faced by importer/exporter, were among the similar barriers.
He reiterated that concrete solutions of all such issues were crucial for ensuring market access in the Indian markets for Pakistani exporters.
Indian commerce secretary, while noting the views expressed by Qureshi, stressed the need for elimination of such NTBs on both sides. The two sides noted with satisfaction the business-to-business contact which is steadily growing between both countries. Chamb ers of commerce in both the countries have been supporting business delegations and trade issues related to trade marks. This process would be supported and facilitated by the commerce ministries of both the countries, with the active support of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO).
The secretaries directed the two organisations to provide better guidance to chambers and business people on customs procedures, import regulations and how to organize exhibitions.
Both sides also appreciated the recent signing of the new liberalized bilateral visa regime. “This fulfils a long pending demand of the business communities of both sides to ensure a better enabling environment for bilateral trade,” said an official statement.
As the countries are moving forward towards trade liberalisation, the supporters of the idea say the countries with a combined population of around 1.5 billion can from the largest common market in the world. They further argue their case, saying the trade potential between the two countries is $100 billion if the strengths available on both sides of border are prudently exploited.
Many believe that the two countries are being held back by their extremely poor social indicators. India ranks 134 and Pakistan 145 on the human development index and no efforts are being made to improve the social indicators.