India, Pakistan agree to open more trade routes

New Delhi: Just a day after opening a new integrated check post at the Attari border, India and Pakistan Saturday said the countries were exploring the possibilities of opening more routes to deepen economic engagements.

India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and his Pakistan counterpart Mohammad Amin Fahim directed officials to discuss possibilities of opening new routes and customs stations.

“The ministers expressed the wish that discussions may continue at the official level for possibilities of opening more land customs stations between both countries,” said a joint press statement issued by the two ministers.

“This would enhance greater economic engagement between business communities of both sides and deepen bilateral cooperation for mutual prosperity of their people,” it said.

Fahim is on a three-day visit to India. This is his second visit to Delhi in the last seven months.

Addressing a joint press conference Friday, Sharma said India has decided “in principle” to allow investments from Pakistan.

Pakistan is the only country from where foreign direct investment is not allowed into India.

The decision was taken at a delegation-level meeting held here Friday. This was the third bilateral meeting between the commerce ministers of India and Pakistan within less than seven months.

The Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram inaugurating the Integrated Check Post (ICP), at Attari in Punjab on April 13, 2012. The Union Minister for Commerce & Industry and Textiles, Anand Sharma, the Commerce Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Makhdoom Muhammad Amin Fahim, the Chief Minister of Punjab, Parkash Singh Badal, the Chief Minister of Punjab province of Pakistan, Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, the Minister of State for Planning, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Ashwani Kumar, the Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, Sukhbir Singh Badal and other are also seen.

During the meeting both sides expressed satisfaction at the joint and coordinated efforts made for making the new gates at the Attari Integrated Check Post functional for trade. The check post was opened Friday.

“The new arrangements shall streamline movement of trucks across the border and significantly enhance the flow of trade through land route,” the joint statement said.

The Pakistani side said they have already built sufficient infrastructure at Wagah border and were clearing all the current cargo traffic.

On the issue of trade in petroleum products and electricity, the ministers expressed the desire that the officials concerned of both countries should fast track the ongoing process.

It was also noted that the respective central banks are examining issues relating to opening of branches of banks of both countries.

According to the joint statement, the two countries are likely to take a decision at forthcoming home secretary-level talks on liberalisation of grant of business visa.

“The ministers expressed their joint wish that business visa regime needs to be liberalised at the earliest,” it said.

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