India-Pakistan trade talks on Wednesday
Describing the India-Pakistan Commerce Secretaries’ talks, beginning on Wednesday, as “a positive development,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters in New Delhi that, “after these talks, there would be greater clarity about possible doables on ways to upgrade economic ties”.
Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar has reached Pakistan on Tuesday for talks with his Pakistani counterpart Zafar Mehmood.
Mr. Sharma said India is of the view that SAFTA (South Asia Free Trade Area) Agreement for opening the mutual markets should be implemented fully.
SAFTA members include Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
He said after all, there has been economic integration among other regions like East Asia and South-East Asia. “South Asia should be part of that story… Pakistan has to be part of the South Asian economic integration,” he said.
Mr. Sharma said after Mr. Khullar returns from Islamabad, he would brief Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the same.
Asked whether export of petroleum products from India to Pakistan would be on the agenda of the Commerce Secretaries, Mr. Sharma refused to comment, saying it would be premature to talk about specifics.
India is willing to export petrol and diesel to the neighbouring country, if Pakistan lifted a ban on its imports from across the border.
Pakistan imports 4-5 million tonne of diesel from Kuwait every year.
Trade between India and Pakistan has remained low at about $2 billion.
Pakistan currently allows India to export items like meat, edible oil, cereals, tobacco, chemicals, fertilisers, leather, cotton, silk, coffee, tea and oilseeds.