Relaxation in visa curbs no precondition for trade talks: Pak

Written by Kirtika Suneja | Lahore | Updated: Feb 15 2014, 10:45am hrs
Emphasising that easing of visa restrictions is no precondition for the continuation of trade talks between India and Pakistan, Pakistani trade minister on Friday said the issue of granting non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) to India and resuming trade through the land route would be resolved soon.

However, despite an assurance on these issues, Pakistan's commerce minister Khurram Dastagir Khan said that the composite talks between the two nations were halted because of the involvement of foreign affairs ministries. We cant give a timeline on resolving the issues but trade talks hit a wall when other ministries get involved. Trade cant happen in vacuum and it is not only the commerce ministries of two sides which can take trade forward. The fact is that the composite dialogue is suspended as of today, Khan said at the India Show organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

On a lighter note, he said: So instead of the two foreign ministries saying will you be my Valentine, talks are suspended. The truth is that visa restrictions are the biggest non-tariff barriers. People and businessmen are not able to travel to each other's countries. That is the great barrier to trade. There are no preconditions on trade talks".

During Khans meeting with commerce minister Anand Sharma last month in New Delhi, India and Pakistan had agreed on an NDMA programme in place of the most favoured nation regime besides opening up Wagah-Attari border round the clock.