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India, Pak work out road map to address NTBs

The two sides have agreed on a road map to finalise an accord for testing of products of their exports interest including garments.
None | By KJM Varma (PTI), Islamabad
PUBLISHED ON MAR 27, 2006 11:08 PM IST

Signalling their willingness to address non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to enhanced bilateral trade, India and Pakistan on Monday agreed on a road map to finalise a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) for testing of products of their exports interest including garments.

The two countries also reached a consensus on exploring the possibility of a bilateral arrangement on customs cooperation, exchange information on the Certificates of Origin, import and export declarations, customs laws and procedures, valuation and trade statistics, it said.

Two sub groups dealing with non-tariff barriers comprising experts and officials had in-depth discussions and worked out a roadmap to finalise the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) to facilitate trade, a joint statement issued at the end of talks of the Joint Working Group (JWG) formed to iron out differences on tariff and non tariff barriers said.

The MRA was agreed to at a meeting of Joint Working Group (JWG) headed by Commerce Secretary SM Menon of India and Syed Asif Shah of Pakistan at their meeting here. The JWG was specially formed to attend to Pakistan complaints of higher tariff and non tariff barriers.

Terming it as a significant progress, Indian officials said MRA is an instrument to eliminate non tariff barriers like testing of goods from the importing country by recognising its testing facilities for import certification.

Under the MRA, goods will not be subjected to testing by the importing country.

The arrangement would help in textiles where exporting countries have to certify that certain banned dies have not been used in their products. (more)

The JWG sub-groups on "Customs Cooperation and Trade Facilitation Measures" also met to discuss Pakistan's complaints about tariffs.

Consensus was also reached to encourage exchange of information electronically between the customs authorities of the two countries to identify areas of mutual technical assistance and capacity building, it said. The sub-group would endeavour to complete these exercises before the next meeting of JWG.

Menon and Shah would meet here tomorrow and day after to discuss substantive issues of trade in goods and services under the framework of the composite dialogue process which currently in its third round, officials said.

A host of issues including Pakistan's willingness to implement South Asian Free Trade Area, (SAFTA), which was recently ratified by all member countries of SAARC and the extension of Most Favoured Nation, (MFN) treatment to India were expected to be discussed.

Even as Menon and Shah held held talks during the day to enhance bilateral trade ties, Pakistan emphatically ruled out granting of MFN status until the talks by both the countries to resolve Kashmir and other issues made progress and India created a level-playing field for Pakistan products by reducing tariffs to reduce the trade deficit.

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