Indo-Pak Parliamentarians express resolve to enhance economic relations

Parliamentarians from Pakistan and India expressed resolve to use third round of dialogue to enhance trade and economic relations between the two countries.

The Two-day sessions of dialogue concluded here Wednesday, with the background of the previous two constructive Parliamentary Dialogues held on January 2011 in Islamabad and August 2011 in New Delhi.

The sessions of dialogue were organized by Pakistan Institute for Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).

The parliamentarians from Pakistan and India comprised MPs representing major political parties of India from both houses of the Indian Parliament. Senator S. M. Zafar, former Federal Minister for Law, Pakistan and Yashwant Sinha, former Union Minister for External Affairs and Finance, India, co-chaired the dialogue session.

The Parliamentarians of both sides recognized the significant progress made in the furtherance of trade and economic relations during the discussions between the Commerce Ministers of India and Pakistan from September 26 to October 11, 2011.

There was general agreement that strengthening of trade relations must be viewed in the wider context for enhancing welfare, growth and its multiplier effects which go beyond trade to improve overall life quality and confer welfare benefits to both countries.

It was noticed that Indo-Pak bilateral trade had increased from just over US$ 1.8 billion in 2008-2009, to US$ 2.6 billion in 2010-2011 and the potential was indeed much larger.

The Commerce Ministers had envisaged enhancing bilateral trade from US $ 2.6 billion to US $ 6 billion within three years. The parliamentarians from both sided urged decision of the two Commerce Ministers for implementing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India Trade Promotion Organisation and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.

The parliamentarians of both sides have asked to evolve an actionable roadmap to broaden the relationship in the context of the plan and objectives set out by both Governments. The parliamentarians of both the countries have recommended that, the current initiatives to complete the transition from the current positive-list approach to a small negative list should be finalized and ratified by end February 2012 and in the second stage, to further phase-out the negative list by end 2012.

The process of seeking preferential trade agreements within the framework of SAFTA should be completed on a priority basis. The Joint Technical Group for improving physical infrastructure for trade should also complete their exercise by end February 2012.

The two Governments should undertake appropriate measures for minimizing sector-specific barriers as well as foster a dialogue between the regulatory bodies of both sides.

The participants also called for trade-facilitation measures, harmonization of custom procedures, an early Investment Protection Treaty, linkages between private sector organizations, enhancing trade in textiles, electronics and information technology, open bank branches in each other’s countries and cross-border listing of stock indices and financial instruments.

A “Comprehensive Economic Framework” for cooperation, improving infrastructure for new air, sea, road and rail routes was also urged with a focus on also encouraging tourism, sports, youth and cultural exchanges.