India and Pakistan on Friday signed three agreements aimed at redressing trade grievances, maintaining quality standards and cooperating in customs issues to normalise trade relations.
The commerce secretaries of the two countries signed the agreements here after two days of talks on commercial and economic cooperation.
"Both sides expressed satisfaction on signing of the three agreements i.e. Redressal of trade grievances agreement, Mutual Recognition Agreement and Customs Cooperation Agreement and directed the relevant authorities to frame rules and procedures to fully implement these agreements. These agreements are expected to substantially facilitate bilateral trade mechanisms," said a joint statement issued after the Sep 20-21 talks.
Both sides voiced satisfaction over the progress made in the bilateral trade relationship, since the last round held in November 2011 in New Delhi.
Noting that better trading opportunities had opened up through the land route, the two sides agreed on the need to strengthen the infrastructure further.
The commerce ministers of India and Pakistan along with the chief ministers of Punjab on either side of the border had in April jointly inaugurated a new Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Attari on the Indian side of the Wagah-Attari border.
On exploring the possibilities of opening new land routes for trade, Pakistan side informed that a working group on Munabhao-Khokhrapar has been constituted.
"Indian side has already conveyed constitution of working group. It was agreed that meeting of the JWG on Munabhao-Khokhrapar would be held in the fourth week of October, 2012 at New Delhi," the statement said.
The need for more trade traffic to be carried through the Railways was emphasized during the talks.
"For this purpose, it was agreed that the railway ministries would hold joint coordination meetings on a monthly basis, at the appropriate levels."
The Pakistan side expressed appreciation of the steps taken by India to reduce its South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) sensitive list by 30 percent from 878 tariff lines to 614 tariff lines as agreed earlier during the sixth round of talks.
"To further deepen the preferential arrangements under SAFTA and to provide level playing field to Pakistani exporters in comparison to concessions allowed by India under SAFTA to rest of the countries in the SAARC region, both sides developed a long term plan," the joint statement said.
The next round of talks is scheduled to take place in India in April 2013.