India, Pakistan to allow 24x7 trade through Wagah-Attari border

news
20 January 2014

India and Pakistan have decided to open the Wagah-Attari border for trade 24X7 and to keep its land customs station operational on all seven days of the week.

Wagah BorderIn a bid to smoothen trade between the two countries, it has also been decided to allow container traffic to be moved right up to Amritsar and Lahore on either side of the border instead of being unloaded at the check-post and re-loaded on the other side.

A meeting of commerce ministers from both countries on Saturday also decided to re-start the trade liberalisation process stalled for the past 16 months and work towards non-discriminatory market access on a reciprocal basis.

They decided to intensify and accelerate the process of trade normalisation, liberalisation and facilitation and to implement the agreed measures before the end of February 2014.

Both sides will convene meetings of the technical working groups of customs, railways, banking, standards organisations and energy to devise the modalities for effective implementation of all requisite measures.

''We have also decided to expedite the process of giving banking licences so that Indian and Pakistani banks can operate in the other country. This would facilitate trade,'' commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said, addressing a joint press conference after the meeting.

The ministers directed their respective ministries to work out modalities for containerisation of cargo, allowing all tradeable items by land route at Wagah, liberalisation of business visa regime and enhancing operational hours at Wagha and Attari and to consider such other measures as deemed necessary by the business communities of the two countries.

Meanwhile, there has been enhanced interaction between the business communities of both countries. A joint business forum of chief executive officers from different sectors have also met twice after the formation of the present Pakistan government.

The CEO forum will hold its third meeting in Pakistan in mid-February 2014.

FICCI and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan are also coordinating an ''India Show'' in Lahore in mid-February and to build on the success that has so far been achieved on the business front, cultural shows have also been planned by artistes from both sides.

India and Pakistan started negotiations to normalise trade ties in January 2011 and had made much headway in trade liberalisation before talks came to an abrupt halt due to violence across the Line of Control.

Pakistan is also yet to extend Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status or non-discriminatory market access to India by allowing import of all products across the border.

Pakistan, however, allows import of 6,800 items from the country at present, up from about 2,000 items when the process started.

Commerce and textile industry minister of Pakistan Khurram Dastgir Khan has been on a visit to India from 16 to 18 January to attend the fifth SAARC Business Leaders Conclave.

India's minister of commerce Anand Sharma also accepted the invitation extended by his Pakistani counterpart to visit Pakistan in February 2014.





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