Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today asked the Pakistan government to replace the existing positive list of import items by a negative list of goods beyond which it would permit imports from India, in order to enhance bilateral trade.
Addressing the 'Trade Meet' organised, as a part of the `Aman Ki Asha' campaign, being run by the Times of India Group and the Jang Group to energise the process of mutual cooperation between India and Pakistan, the finance minister said expansion of trade relations would significantly help in reducing regional tensions and mutual mistrust.
"I am extremely pleased to be with you in this `Trade Meet' …… I understand that the agenda of the campaign includes issues of trade and commerce, and of economic cooperation apart from other issues like cultural exchanges, religious and medical tourism, free movement of ideas and sporting ties," he said.
India and Pakistan are not only neighbours. They share a common historical past and socioeconomic affinity. Development of trade and other economic relations between them is natural and necessary to maintain peace and stability, as also for fostering development in South Asia, he said.
South Asia, Pranab said, is the least integrated region compared to regions comprising developing countries such as East Asia, Latin America, Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa or sub-Saharan Africa.
He said, regional groups are expected to pursue closer economic integration at the regional level and the objectives of the groups are to increase market access, expand exports and strengthen mutual understanding at the political level among the members. There is no reason why SAARC nations cannot replicate such a model, he added.