India and Pakistan today signed three agreements for cooperation in customs matters, redressal of trade grievances and conforming to quality standards to further normalise economic relations between the two countries.
An Indian delegation led by commerce secretary S R Rao and a Pakistani delegation headed by commerce secretary Munir Qureshi signed the agreements in Islamabad at the end of the seventh round of talks held during 20-21 September.
It was agreed that the customs and port authorities of both countries will resolve all issues through mutual cooperation, harmonisation of customs procedures, provision of laboratory facilities, scanners, weigh bridges, cold houses, containerised services and automation of the business processes. For this purpose, meetings of the customs liason border committee would be held on monthly basis. CLBC would also explore the possibilities of organising meetings between the relevant importers and exporters at Wagah-Attari border. It was decided that this land customs station would operate seven days a week.
Also, railway ministries of both countries would hold joint coordination meetings on a monthly basis, at the appropriate levels. Issues on availability of sufficient number of rakes for interchange was also highlighted by the Pakistan Railways.
On exploring the possibilities of opening new land routes for trade, the Pakistan side informed that a working group on Munabhao-Khokhrapar has been constituted. The Indian side has already conveyed constitution of working group. It was agreed that meeting of the JWG on Munabhao-Khokhrapar would be held in fourth week of October 2012 at New Delhi.
Both sides agreed that procedures needed to be simplified to encourage two-way investment and to enhance investor confidence on both sides. It was also decided that outreach programmes may be held with the business communities on both sides, regarding the new investment opportunities, application procedures and regulatory issues.