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Pak hopeful of better trade ties with India

india Updated: Feb 20, 2007 08:57 IST

Pakistan, in conflict with India over allowing imports of more products under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), on Tuesday said it is hopeful of reaching a "breakthrough" in bilateral trade relations.

"We are hopeful of a breakthrough... We are hoping for better trade relations with India," Pakistan's Minister of State for Commerce Hamid Yar Hiraj said when asked about his country's reluctance to open markets for India under SAFTA.

Hiraj is leading a 187-member business delegation, the largest-ever from Pakistan to India. His comments came just days before trade ministers of SAARC countries meet in Kathmandu to sort out issues coming in the way of full implementation of SAFTA.

He, however, refused to spell out the details, saying this cannot be leaked out at this juncture.

Hiraj, who met Commerce Minister Kamal Nath on Monday, said the issue of Pakistan limiting the number of products it would allow to be imported from India and other problems in full implementation of SAFTA would be discussed in Kathmandu.

Officials of SAARC member countries are meeting on February 24. The Committee of Experts, at the Joint Secretary level, will discuss issues such as sensitive list, non-tariff barriers and dispute settlement mechanism. The report of the committee would be presented to the ministers who will begin their meeting on February 26. 

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