India and Pak agree on new market access regime

In order to enhance bilateral trade, India and Pakistan on Saturday agreed on a non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) programme in place of the MFN regime, besides opening up Wagah-Attari border round the clock.

“It has been 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,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said at a press conference, held jointly with his Pakistani counterpart Khurram Dastagir Khan.

“For that to happen, we have agreed to that we will open Wagah-Attari border 24X7 for trade... We will also allow both the sides, the movement of containers to the container terminals through Wagah-Attari to Amritsar and Lahore respectively," he said.

“This will bring efficiency to the trading relationship,” Khan said. India and Pakistan, he said will convene meeting of technical working group of customs, railways, banking, standards orgnaisations and energy to device the modalities for effective implementation of requisite measures.

The ministerial level meeting, which took place after a gap of 16 months, has also deliberated on the need to relax visa regime and facilitate the entry of banks in each other's country. The central banks of the two countries have been in negotiations and it has been agreed between the State Bank of Pakistan and the Reserve Bank of India to give banking licences to the banks as nominated by the respective governments, he said.

Explaining the rationale of NDMA, Sharma said: "MFN is an acronym of WTO. When nations engage, they engage bilaterally. Both Pakistan and India are members of the WTO. We agreed to NDMA, as is (done) between large economies of the world."

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