Indo-Pak ministers to meet; India says no resumption of talks
India and trade in petro products will be among the issues likely to figure in the meeting of the commerce ministers of India and Pakistan
New Delhi: Grant of MFN status to India and trade in petro products will be among the issues likely to figure in the meeting of the commerce ministers of India and Pakistan on January 18 even as the government here made it clear today that the meet could not be construed as resumption of dialogue process.
Prior to the ministerial deliberations between Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Pakistan’s State Minister for Commerce and Textile Khurram Dastagir Khan, the commerce secretaries of the two countries are also expected to meet on January 15 to set the agenda.
“Issues like removing non-trade barriers, MFN status to India, trade of power and petroleum products and opening of bank branches are likely to figure in the meeting of ministers,” a source said.
The trade liberalization process between the two nations was impacted after the beheading of an Indian soldier in January last year.
Besides, Pakistan which has missed the deadline of granting Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India is also not going down well with officials here. Pakistan was to grant the status in December last year by eliminating the negative list of 1,209 items.
Meanwhile, Spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry said, “There is a meeting of the commerce minister of India and Minister of State for commerce of Pakistan on the sidelines of a business conference. This possibly cannot be construed as resumption of India-Pakistan dialogue process.”
Khan is coming here for SAARC Business Leaders Conclave.
“Our understanding is that Pakistani authorities are willing to take substantive steps to show that they are in fact serious about moving ahead with the process of normalization of trade.
“Therefore they (Pakistan) have requested a meeting between the commerce secretaries prior to the meeting of ministers which have been agreed to,” the spokesperson said.
The Indian government will take next step only after considering the outcome of the meeting, the Spokesperson said.
“We have always remained hopeful that the sequential road map will be implemented with Pakistan taking the first step and we will wait and see how it pans out in the coming meeting,” he added.
The Commerce Secretaries of India and Pakistan met last time in September 2012.
The bilateral trade between the countries stood at USD 2.60 billion in 2012-13.