Indo-Pak sign 3 agreements to facilitate bilateral trade

Islamabad: India and Pakistan on Friday signed three agreements to facilitate bilateral trade even as New Delhi offered to supply 100 railway locomotives and help set up thermal or hydroelectric power plants of up to 2,000 MW.

The agreements were signed at the conclusion of two-day talks between the Commerce Secretaries of the two countries.

Their discussions focussed on measures to boost bilateral trade and cooperation in new areas like opening of bank branches and cross-border investments. One agreement will cover cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters while another will help redress trade grievances.

The third pact between the Bureau of Indian Standards and the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) was for conforming standards in the two countries. Both sides directed authorities to frame rules and procedures to fully implement these agreements, which are expected to substantially facilitate trade mechanisms.

They further agreed that another agreement will be signed between the Export Inspection Council of India and PSQCA. Both sides have already exchanged the draft of this pact. The Indian side made an offer to supply up to 100 locomotives to the Pakistan Railways, said a joint statement issued after the talks.

The state-run Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited offered to cooperate with Pakistan in setting up coal, hydro or gas power plants of 500 to 2,000 MW.

The Indian side indicated its willingness to cooperate with Pakistan in wind and solar energy. The Indian side also said it is willing to export up to five million cubic metres of gas per day for an initial period of five years. Pakistani side said this offer was “under active consideration”.

The Commerce Secretaries reviewed progress on other issues like trade in petroleum products and energy and reciprocal opening of bank branches. They exhorted the stakeholders on both sides to speed up mutual consultations so that “concrete progress” could be made on these issues within six months.