Indo-Afghan trade agreement

New Delhi: With a view to expanding trade and economic relations, India and Afghanistan on Tuesday agreed to take steps to simplify customs procedures and gradually lower tariff barriers.

A joint statement issued after a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai said, "The sides agree to take effective measures to create a favorable environment to promote trade and investment."The measures include enhancing investment protection, simplifying customs and other procedures, and promoting the removal of non-tariff barriers and gradually lowering tariff barriers, the statement added.

The specific measures agreed upon in this regard include encouraging contacts between regions or provinces in both the countries and jointly exploring the possibilities of regional trading arrangements with third countries.

Encouraging cooperation between industry chambers in the two countries is another step envisaged in the statement.

To enhance the competitiveness of goods, a mechanism will be established to promote cooperation between quality assurance and standardization institutions, it said.

Recognizing that regional economic cooperation is vital to the future economic prosperity of individual nations, the two sides agreed to cooperate, both bilaterally and through regional organizations in promoting regional economic cooperation.