Finding a mutually beneficial way to counter the impact of the global economic meltdown appears to be more important for India and Pakistan than the fallout after the November 26 terror attacks in Mumbai. Despite having snapped trade talks after the Mumbai attack,the two neighbours today came together to find means of mitigating the effect of the slowdown.
As commerce secretaries of the eight-nation South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) met here,officials from both India and Pakistan remained focused on giving a boost to the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta). However,officials from both countries remained silent on bilateral ties even on the sidelines of the meet. We are at the moment talking about Saarc. I think it is important to concentrate on the matters in hand… Multilateral forums are very important and we need to strengthen those, Pakistan commerce secretary Suleiman Ghani said when asked about the fate of India-Pakistan trade ties.
Presiding over the meeting of the Committee on Economic Cooperation,commerce secretary G K Pillai said,Our resolve to initiate the review of the sensitive list is a pleasant (happening) in a depressing regional environment. This is for the first time that trade officials from Pakistan travelled to India after the Mumbai attacks. Officials agreed to work on pruning their sensitive lists to enable increased trade flow under Safta.
Addressing the meeting,Saarc secretary general Seel Kant Sharma expressed the hope that member-states would be ready to come forward with their “reduced sensitive list” at the next meeting of commerce secretaries later this year. While the eight countries have operationalised Safta,they maintain barriers on items on the sensitive lists,thus blocking the potential for increasing the current $26 billion trade in the Saarc region.