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Trade boost: Pak to dismantle negative list

Trade between Pakistan and India through the Attari-Wagah land route is expected to get a major boost from next month with the Pakistan government agreeing to dismantle the negative list for trade between the two countries.

Written by Harpreet Bajwa | Chandigarh | Published: September 25, 2012 6:31:43 am

Trade between Pakistan and India through the Attari-Wagah land route is expected to get a major boost from next month with the Pakistan government agreeing to dismantle the negative list for trade between the two countries.

As against the permission to trade in just about 137 items through this route,the number of items that can be traded in future are expected to go up to 6,000. Last week,an 18-member delegation,lead by Union Commerce Secretary S R Rao had visited Pakistan. The delegation also included Punjab Chief Secretary Rakesh Singh.

During talks,it was decided in principle to increase the number of items on the trade list coming through the Attari-Wagah land route by dismantling the negative list by the end of October. In all,around 6,000 items will now be allowed to be traded — the same number of items is traded between the two countries through the Mumbai-Karachi sea route.

This will give a major boost to trade ties with the neighbouring country,as removal of restrictions will enhance exports from India,which are till now transported via the sea route. At present,137 items,including fruits,vegetables,livestock,cement,gypsum,dry fruits and paper are traded through the land route.

While speaking with The Indian Express,Rakesh Singh said: “With more items allowed to be traded through the land route,the economy of the state will benefit a lot,as much more business will come to the state.’’

Trade between India and Pakistan is worth nearly $2.5 billion and is expected to go up 10 times with Pakistan initiating the process to accord MFN status to India. As it is,India-Pakistan trade via third countries is estimated at $10 billion.

The new ICP,spread over nearly 120 acres and built at a cost of about Rs 150 crore,has state-of-the-art facilities with dedicated terminals for cargo and passengers. The ICP has integrated the services of immigration,customs,cargo and handling of trucks. The Centre has also ordered scanners to scan railway goods’ bogies,as in the meeting,it was emphasised that trade through railway should be encouraged.

According to sources,the meeting also discussed the chances of opening up of the Hussaniwala and Abohar land routes between India and Pakistan — though at first,Pakistan was averse to the idea,this time it had shown positive interest.

Sources added that at first,trade will be opened through rail between Munabao in Rajasthan and Karachi in Sind. At present,a passenger train only plies between the two stations once a week. Following this,Hussaniwala and Abohar land routes will be taken up.

It was also decided that the relics of Maharaja Ranjit Singh,which are in Pakistan’s Punjab,will be brought to Punjab in India for a six-month exhibition

at the Gobindgarh Fort in Amritsar. For this,the Punjab chief secretary will write to his counterpart in Pakistan’s Punjab.

It was also decided that joint sporting events will be held between both Punjabs in November.

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