Pak's MFN status to India likely by year-end

Taking major steps towards boosting bilateral trade, India and Pakistan on Wednesday agreed to ease visa regime for businessmen. Islamabad assured New Delhi of moving to negative list of imports by this month-end before phasing it out by year-end making way for most favoured nation (MFN) status hanging fire for over 15 years.

The two countries also agreed to allow opening of two branches of their banks on reciprocal basis for which an understanding has been reached between RBI and State Bank of Pakistan.

Visiting Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who is leading an over 120 people-strong business delegation, said that he has discussed the issue of visa liberalisation with Home Minister and the two countries will completely revise the existing bilateral visa agreement that was signed in 1974 to facilitate travel by businessmen from both the countries.

“Visa agreement of 1974 will be revised and signed...I have discussed this matter with the Home Minister. Commerce, Home and External Affairs secretaries are in the final stages of deliberations,” Sharma said.

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