India, Pak to use B2B bridge for building mutual trust

New Delhi: Realising business-to-business contact will "build bridges of friendship and trust", India and Pakistan today agreed to "normalise" bilateral trade and more than double it to USD six billion in three years.

Both sides conveyed their strong desire in this regard, after a meeting between Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and his Pakistan counterpart Makhdoom Amin Fahim here.

While Islamabad agreed to implement all obligations under South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) Agreement, New Delhi said it will consider "at the highest level" and soon take a decision on Pakistan`s demand for cross-border investment.

The two nations, with commercial engagement of only USD 2.7 billion, "agreed to jointly work to more than double bilateral trade within three years …to USD six billion," a joint statement said after the meeting.

"The ministers affirmed that fully normalised commercial link… would strengthen the bilateral relationship and build the bridges of friendship, trust and understanding for mutual benefit of their people and promotion of prosperity in South Asia," it said.

Fahim, who is accompanied by a 50-member business delegation, is the first Pakistan Commerce Minister to visit India after more than 35 years. Before coming here, he met Indian businessmen in Mumbai in the last two days.

For normalising the business ties,the ministers "agreed that all mutual obligations contracted under SAFTA would be implemented with full sincerity".

On India`s demand for the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status by Pakistan, Fahim said, "things are moving forward according to plan. We are looking forward to achieve the target"