In a stepped-up effort at economic and trade diplomacy, the fourth round of meetings between the commerce secretaries of India and Pakistan will be held in New Delhi for three days beginning July 31. The meeting is scheduled within the framework of the composite dialogue and the joint study grou involving the two nations.
To give a further impetus to trade between the two neighbours, the government has sought the views of industry chambers and exporters on the issues, industry sources said.
The sources, who did not wish to be identified, said the government has sought the views of industry chambers including the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and others on the issues that might be discussed in these meetings.
The government has asked the associations to give their comments by July 3, which would leave sufficient time for the government to hammer out the broad contours of the agenda for the forthcoming round of meetings.
Trade between India and Pakistan has shown good buoyancy in recent years and crossed $1.5 billion in 2006-07. Exports to Pakistan in April-December (2006-07) stood at $980.33 million, while imports were $247.48 million.
The third round of talks on economic and commercial cooperation between India and Pakistan was held on March 28 and 29 last year. Pakistan had agreed to import more tea from India, with both sides deciding that they would encourage delegations of importers and exporters of tea to visit the two respective countries so as to facilitate the import of tea from India. It was also emphasized that with the proposed new shipping agreement coming into effect, import of tea by Pakistan form India would be facilitated further.
India and Pakistan had also agreed to open branches of scheduled banks from both countries in each other's territory with a plan that their respective central banks would process branch licence applications at a quick pace. The two countries had also agreed to study and identify problems of goods traffic transported by train.
Apart from this, Pakistan and India had agreed to constitute a working group to discuss issues relating to joint registration of basmati rice grown in the South Asian region as a geographical indication (GI) which would enjoy special trademark-like protection under world trade laws. Pakistan had also agreed to consider enlarging the list of imported items from India.