NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan have agreed to work out a roadmap for allowing a whole spectrum of items for trade through the land route (Attari-Wagah) that could expand the volume of bilateral business up to $7 billion.
The products include pharmaceuticals and related products, cement, livestock, newsprint, petrochemicals, fabric and raw jute. At present, 150-odd items are allowed to be exported to Pakistan through the land route and trucks. After the pruning of the negative list by Pakistan last month, the number of items exported by India has gone up to nearly 7,800.
Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Pakistan Trade Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim held talks on Friday.
In a joint statement issued on Saturday, both sides agreed to take all further action to encourage greater trade through the newly inaugurated Integrated Check Post (ICP). “It was agreed upon that Pakistan would take necessary steps to remove extant restrictions on items permitted to be imported through the land route. The aim is to permit all items not in the Negative List to be traded across the land border at Attari-Wagah.
The Pakistan side has stated that through a Cabinet decision in 2009, the flow of items is linked to provision of adequate infrastructure at the check post and it would take the case to the Cabinet on the basis of the additional capacity created through the new ICP,” according to the statement. This could possibly pave way for allowing import of cement from Pakistan to India and export of pharma products, expanded list of fruits and vegetables, livestock, petrochemicals, petroleum products, raw jute and fabrics to and from Pakistan.
Stating that the Commerce Secretaries will meet in Islamabad in May, the statement said the new arrangements at the ICP shall streamline movement of trucks across the border and significantly enhance the flow of trade through land route. It was also noted that Pakistan had already built sufficient infrastructure at Wagah and is clearing all the current cargo traffic.
The new infrastructure will enable a substantial increase in the movement of goods traffic across the border. Also, it will now be possible for trade to be conducted over longer hours during any working day.
“The Pakistan side stated that through a Cabinet decision Ministers expressed the wish that discussions may continue at the official level for possibilities of opening more land customs stations between both countries. This would enhance greater economic engagement between business communities of both sides and deepen bilateral cooperation for mutual prosperity of their people,” the joint statement said.