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India, Pak to boost trade link

By The Assam Tribune

ADDU (MALDIVES), Nov 10 � With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declaring that time has come to write a �new chapter� in the history of two countries, India today decided to move towards a Preferential Trade Agreement with Pakistan as both sides agreed to put in place a liberalised visa regime soon, reports PTI.

The decision to move towards a Preferential Trade Agreement with Pakistan under SAFTA that will lead to zero customs duty on all traded goods by 2016 came as Singh met his counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani on the margins of the 17th SAARC summit here. The two leaders also agreed that bilateral trade will be conducted on Most Favoured Nation (MFN) basis.

During their hour-long meeting, both leaders decided to put in place a liberalised visa regime that is being negotiated at the earliest and revive the Indo-Pak Joint Commission that has not been in operation since 2005.

The South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) is an agreement reached in the 2004 SAARC Summit in Islamabad which created a free trade area of 1.8 billion people in Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The decision to take the bilateral engagement to a new level came in the two Prime Ministers� third meeting in the last 18 months after their talks at the 2010 SAARC Summit in Thimphu when they decided to resume bilateral dialogue.

It also comes on top of Pakistan deciding to confer MFN status to India, 15 years after New Delhi granted such a status to Islamabad. After some flip-flops in Pakistan following its last week decision, it has been clarified at the highest level in Pakistan that it will not backtrack on its decision.

Briefing journalists on the meeting, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said the Prime Minister referred to the issue of terrorism as a perennial concern in the bilateral relations which now affects Pakistan too.

�The Prime Minister did mention that it was imperative to bring the perpetrators of the 26/11 attacks to justice.�

Gilani responded saying all steps would be taken in this context in the joint fight against terror, Mathai said.

The Foreign Secretary said in the era of trade and economic relations, the two Prime Ministers agreed that the process of trade normalisation between their countries will be pursued to its logical conclusions. Trade will be conducted on MFN basis and all the countries in the South Asian region will move to meeting trade obligations under SAFTA.

�We will also move towards Preferential Trade Agreement with Pakistan,� Mathai quoted Singh as telling Gilani.

Mathai said the two Prime Ministers agreed that people are at the heart of the relationship between the two countries and people-to-people cultural contacts should be promoted.

In this context, they decided that the liberalised visa regime be put in place at the earliest.

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India, Pak to boost trade link

ADDU (MALDIVES), Nov 10 � With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declaring that time has come to write a �new chapter� in the history of two countries, India today decided to move towards a Preferential Trade Agreement with Pakistan as both sides agreed to put in place a liberalised visa regime soon, reports PTI.

The decision to move towards a Preferential Trade Agreement with Pakistan under SAFTA that will lead to zero customs duty on all traded goods by 2016 came as Singh met his counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani on the margins of the 17th SAARC summit here. The two leaders also agreed that bilateral trade will be conducted on Most Favoured Nation (MFN) basis.

During their hour-long meeting, both leaders decided to put in place a liberalised visa regime that is being negotiated at the earliest and revive the Indo-Pak Joint Commission that has not been in operation since 2005.

The South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) is an agreement reached in the 2004 SAARC Summit in Islamabad which created a free trade area of 1.8 billion people in Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The decision to take the bilateral engagement to a new level came in the two Prime Ministers� third meeting in the last 18 months after their talks at the 2010 SAARC Summit in Thimphu when they decided to resume bilateral dialogue.

It also comes on top of Pakistan deciding to confer MFN status to India, 15 years after New Delhi granted such a status to Islamabad. After some flip-flops in Pakistan following its last week decision, it has been clarified at the highest level in Pakistan that it will not backtrack on its decision.

Briefing journalists on the meeting, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said the Prime Minister referred to the issue of terrorism as a perennial concern in the bilateral relations which now affects Pakistan too.

�The Prime Minister did mention that it was imperative to bring the perpetrators of the 26/11 attacks to justice.�

Gilani responded saying all steps would be taken in this context in the joint fight against terror, Mathai said.

The Foreign Secretary said in the era of trade and economic relations, the two Prime Ministers agreed that the process of trade normalisation between their countries will be pursued to its logical conclusions. Trade will be conducted on MFN basis and all the countries in the South Asian region will move to meeting trade obligations under SAFTA.

�We will also move towards Preferential Trade Agreement with Pakistan,� Mathai quoted Singh as telling Gilani.

Mathai said the two Prime Ministers agreed that people are at the heart of the relationship between the two countries and people-to-people cultural contacts should be promoted.

In this context, they decided that the liberalised visa regime be put in place at the earliest.