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SAARC Ministerial Council likely in Oct

India says it will take up its objection to Pak limiting trade with Delhi under SAFTA at the meet.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2006 13:24 IST

India on Monday said it will take up its objection to Pakistan limiting trade with New Delhi under the South Asia Free Trade Area at SAARC Ministerial Council meeting in October, but made it clear that tariff concessions offered to Islamabad would continue.

"SAARC Ministerial Council could be held in October. We would be raising the issue of Pakistan not giving us market access under SAFTA," Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said on the sidelines of a conference here.

Pakistan's decision to trade with India only a small number of items kept in the positive list violates the spirit of the free trade pact, he said.

However, he said India remained committed to the agreement and would continue to offer tariff concessions and make unilateral efforts to reduce non-tariff barriers on products of export interest to other South Asian countries.

Although Ramesh said he was hopeful Pakistan would lift restrictions, Commerce Ministry officials said it was unlikely that Pakistan would allow import of more Indian goods.

Tariff liberalisation under SAFTA came into effect from July one this year. While all countries trade with each other all items except those mentioned in their respective negative list, Pakistan has decided to import only a limited number of products from India under its positive list.

India had raised the contentious issue at SAARC Foreign Secretary as well as Foreign Ministers meetings in Dhaka earlier this month, but without much success as Pakistan remained adamant on its stand.