Trade talks between India and Pakistan have started here on Wednesday with an aim to reduce bilateral trade barriers and bring prosperity in the region.
After reaching Islamabad, Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma told that several issues would be discussed with Pakistan including bilateral trade that would strengthen the economy of both the countries.
Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma is leading the Indian side in trade talks while Pakistani side is headed by Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim.
According to sources, both the countries would discuss how to remove the non-tariff barriers and ways to enhance the bilateral trade which is currently about $2.7 billion annually. Pakistan and India are likely to sign three agreements, sources added.
Talking to media persons on the sidelines of a business meeting here, Anand Sharma said India was keen to boost trade with Pakistan despite political differences.
“We have issues with other neighbouring countries as well. Today China is India’s largest trading partner so why can’t Pakistan and India engage with each other for bringing prosperity and economic development. We are for that,” he said. Sharma, who is leading a high-level business delegation a four-day visit to Pakistan, said Indian government was “serious” and “sincere” in resolving all issues with Pakistan.
“We are serious and sincere in deepening economic engagements with Pakistan. We have come here with an open mind and open heart,” said Sharma.
Makhdoom Amin Fahim said the Pakistani government was taking steps to remove hurdles that are affecting the movements of trade and investments between the two countries.
“We have prepared a roadmap. A roadmap that we are going to have a very good business and economic relations,” said Fahim.
After a bilateral meeting in September last year, trade ministers of India and Pakistan had set a target to increase bilateral trade to $6 billion in three years from $2.7 billion recorded in 2010-11.
“It’s not peace that leads to trade but it’s trade that leads to peace,” said R.V. Kanoria, President of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci). Kanoria, who is part of over 120-member Indian business delegation, said business communities of both the countries have very high expectations from the political leadership to ease norms to facilitate the flow of bilateral trade and investments.
As per a recent Ficci study, bilateral trade of India and Pakistan could reach $10 billion if trade through third countries like Dubai, Singapore and Central Asian countries is channelised into direct exchanges.