Pakistan has gone ahead with plans to normalise trade relations with India and announced the removal of restrictions on import of 12 items from the country, including raw materials, machinery, leather and textiles, with immediate effect.
A meeting of the economic coordination committee of the cabinet headed by Pakistan's finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh permitted import of these goods from India on a one-time basis.
The meeting also approved necessary regulatory changes in the country's Import and Export Policy Order (Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2009-12), an official statement said today.
The announcement comes close on the heels of statements issued by the prime ministers Manmohan Singh and Yusuf Raza Gilani at the SAARC summit in Maldives that the two countries are set on a course towards freer trade.
The move also comes amidst reports that some textile mills in Pakistan are planning to relocate to Bangladesh to avail of an investor-friendly climate there.
Pakistan has already announced its decision to normalise trade ties with India and to eventually grant it 'most favoured nation' status. Major decisions are expected when commerce secretaries of the two countries meet in New Delhi on 14-15 November.
Pakistan's commerce ministry had moved the economic coordination committee of the cabinet seeking approval for expansion of the ''positive list'' of items that can be imported from India, commerce secretary Zafar Mahmood sad, adding that he was hopeful of a ''major breakthrough'' in the upcoming talks in New Delhi.
While India had accorded MFN status to Pakistan as far back as in 1996, it was only recently that Pakistan's commerce ministry sought approval of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), to increase the number of items that can be imported from India.