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India to consider Pak's offer to talk commerce

India will positively consider a proposal from Pakistan for formal talks between the commerce secretaries of the two countries to push bilateral economic ties that can potentially take their two-way trade to $10 billion, officials said.

world Updated: Jun 26, 2010 22:16 IST

India will positively consider a proposal from Pakistan for formal talks between the commerce secretaries of the two countries to push bilateral economic ties that can potentially take their two-way trade to $10 billion, officials said.

"The Pakistanis are very keen we reengage with them at the commerce secretaries level. We feel it is a constructive idea," a top Indian official said here on Saturday, referring to the talks between the foreign secretaries of the two countries in Islamabad.

"Pakistan's Planning Commission had recently commissioned a study. They assessed the potential for two-way trade at $10 billion and said Pakistan should look at the win-win situation by engaging with India," the official added.

At present, while bilateral trade between India and Pakistan is officially put at around $2 billion, a large ammount of merchandise is routed through third countries, notably the Gulf nations, which is estimated at another $8 billion.

India's Foreign Secetary Nirupama Rao met with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir on Thursday, following which Home Minister P Chidambaram had a meeting with his Pakistani couterpart Rahman Malik on Friday, both in Islamabad.

New Delhi has also conveyed to Islamabad that among the other issues they could consider is to expand the list of items that can be imported by Pakistan from India.

"There is a feeling that there should be a negative list of imports, rather than a positive list and most-favoured nation status also very much forms a part of expanding relations with us and confidence-building measures," the official added.

India had accorded most-favoured nation status to Pakistan in terms of bilateral trade and commerce over a decade ago. But Islamabad has been reluctant on reciprocating the gesture because of lack of political will.

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