Opportunity for India, Pak to expand trade: US

Washington: Describing the recent Indo-Pak Commerce Secretary-level talks as "very positive", the US has said the important decisions reached at the parleys could lead to significant new trade benefits for the two countries.

"We have welcomed the progress that has taken place between India and Pakistan, particularly over the last several months," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, told PTI here.

His remarks came when asked about a series of bilateral talks between India and Pakistan in the past several months.

"We congratulate both Prime Ministers for the very significant cricket diplomacy that took place at Mohali.

I think that was the very positive follow on to the Home Secretary-level talks," he said in response to a question.

"More recently, of course, the Commerce Secretaries had, I gather, a very positive meeting in Islamabad where they have apparently agreed to some important steps that could yield quite significant new trade benefits between these two countries," Blake said.

"We have always said that there are very significant opportunities to expand trade between India and Pakistan that would benefit both countries," he said.

A joint statement issued on Thursday after the Indo-Pak Commerce Secretary-level talks in Islamabad said the two sides would set up two groups of experts to examine the "feasibility, scope and modalities" for a new initiative to enable trade in electricity and to "initiate and substantially expand trade in all types of petroleum products".

It said Pakistan recognised that the grant of Most Favoured Nation status to India would help in expanding bilateral trade and both sides agreed to remove non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and other "restrictive practices" that hamper commerce.