The commerce ministers of India and Pakistan will meet after a gap of over three years in New Delhi next month to discuss ways to boost trade and proposals to remove non-tariff barriers as the two countries make efforts to normalise relations.
Indian commerce minister Anand Sharma has invited his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Amin Fahim, a senior leader of the ruling Pakistan People's Party, to visit New Delhi for the meeting.
The meeting will be a follow-up to talks in Islamabad in April between the commerce secretaries of the two sides.
During those parleys, Pakistan agreed to take steps to implement a non-discriminatory trade regime with India and the two sides said they would work on steps to boost trade in electricity and petroleum products as part of efforts to use economic engagement to build trust.
Indian officials told PTI that Pakistan had, in essence, agreed to extend the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India by putting in place a non-discriminatory trade regime "at the earliest".
However, the Pakistani side has indicated that granting MFN status to India would be linked to the removal of what Islamabad describes as "non-tariff barriers".
The Indian officials clarified that these "non-tariff barriers", including laboratory tests for textiles and standards for cement, are not Pakistan-specific and apply to all of India's trade partners.
During his meeting with Sharma, Fahim is also expected to urge India to end its opposition to the European Union's preferential trade package offered to Pakistan in the aftermath of last year's devastating floods.