India and Pakistan today agreed to more than double bilateral trade within three years, from current levels of $2.7 billion to about $6 billion, even as commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma and visiting Pakistan commerce minister Makhdoom Mohammad Amin Fahim noted with satisfaction that India and Pakistan are entering a new phase of full normalisation of bilateral trade relations.
The trade promotion bodies of the two countries - India Trade Promotion Organisation and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan - also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to facilitate achievement of the goal. The MoU will foster better trade promotional activities, which would benefit business communities of both countries, the ministers said in a joint statement.
The ministers noted that fully normalised commercial links between the two countries would strengthen bilateral relationship and build the bridges of friendship, trust and understanding - for mutual benefit of their people and promotion of prosperity in South Asia.
The ministers mandated their commerce secretaries to pursue with vigor the task of fully normalising bilateral trade relations. The two countries will cooperate to expand preferential trade relations under the framework of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). They also agreed that all mutual obligations contracted under SAFTA would be implemented with full sincerity.
The meeting of the commerce secretaries in November would lay down specific timelines for normalising all trade relations, including dismantling of all non-tariff barriers. They have also been mandated with full implementation of SAFTA obligations.
Commerce secretaries were also directed to prepare roadmaps for greater preferential trading arrangements between India and Pakistan. Both ministers agreed that joint and concerted efforts would be made in all areas to create an enabling environment for trade and to encourage greater engagement between the business communities of both countries. They agreed to further promote greater intra-regional connectivity through road, rail, shipping and air.