Pakistan and India, the two archrivals, are expected to resume talks on trade expansion and removal of non-tariff barriers later this month, weeks after cricket diplomacy helped them bring slow but cautious normalcy in their fragile relations.
Indian Commerce Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai will visit Islamabad late in April for two days and will hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Zaqfar Mehymod, on enhancing and further strengthening bilateral trade ties, said reports on Wednesday.
The reports said that the visit will provide a chance to Pakistan to persuade Indian authorities to withdraw resistance to the proposed EU trade concessions offered to Islamabad in the wake of devastating floods last year.
Pakistan’s economy was devastatingly hurt by unprecedented floods last year in three main provinces of the country, Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh. The floods destroyed industrial output and led to double-digit increase in food items.
To meet the challenges, EU had offered Pakistan trade concessions worth USD 900 million, which were scheduled to be implemented from January.
However, the Indian government, with the help of a few others, blocked the move at the Geneva-based World Trade Organization last month. The issue is now expected to be taken up at the WTO general council meeting scheduled for May 3rd.
Imports from India have increased to about US2 billion a year, while exports still hover between USD 400 million and USD 600 million, reflecting an imbalance in favor of the neighboring country.
Pakistan had not benefited from the composite dialogue as exports are still facing numerous non-tariff barriers in the Indian market.
A list of importable products from India was expanded this year from 42 items in 1986 to 1,145 items.