India on Tuesday asked Pakistan to name the items it does not want to import from New Delhi, so that trade can be scaled up at least in the other goods -- which it said could help cool regional tensions.
"Most important factors to my mind to improve the economic cooperation between our two nations... replacement of existing positive list by negative list of goods beyond which it (Pakistan) would permit imports from India," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at the Indo-Pak business meet organised by CII, the Times of India and Jang Group.
Mukherjee said development of trade and other economic relations between the two nations is natural and necessary to maintain peace, and stability as also for fostering development in south Asia.
"Expansion of these relations can help significantly in reducing regional tensions and mutual mistrust," he said.
At present, Pakistan has a positive list of items for imports from India. This creates a major problem for bilateral trade since it becomes difficult to identify items in which Indian exports are not allowed.
The Pakistan's positive list of imported items from India has been substantially expanded to 1,934 items as of September 2009 from 773 in July 2006.
Pakistan currently allows India to export items like meat, edible oil, cereals, tobacco, chemicals, fertilisers, leather, cotton, silk, coffee, tea and oilseeds.
The Finance Minister also called for liberalisation of the trade regime in the two countries, improvement in communication and free movement of goods between the two countries for expansion of bilateral trade.
Mukherjee said bilateral trade between India and Pakistan grew by 550 per cent between 2003-04 and 2007-08 to $2,248.5 million.
However, it decreased 19.1 per cent to $1,810 million during 2008-09, when Indian exports decreased, but imports increased, he added.
The Finance Minister said the government is setting up a modern integrated check post at the India-Pak border at Atari, Amritsar.
"The experience that we can draw from around the world would show that a more economically integrated and rapidly developing region would generate a peace dividend," he said.
Extended trade relationships would reduce potential for conflict by creating strong constituencies for peace, which could be a major additional benefit for the countries in south Asia, he said.
"Peace and stability in the region would contribute to a perception of South Asia as a stable region for investment and lead to increased FDI into the region," Mukherjee said.