Benazir's assasination will affect trade talks between Pak and India

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Bangalore, Dec 28 (UNI) Trade talks between India and Pakistan will be badly affected following assasination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto yesterday, Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said today.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines after releasing the new Arabica coffee plant variety 'Chandragiri' developed by the Coffee Board here, he said that the trade talks, which were at crucial stage, was to resume during February or March next year but the assassination and uncertainty over holding of general elections in January could cast a shadow on bilateral trade talks.

He said the total bilateral trade between the two countries was to the tune of four billion US dollars. "Officially India was exporting one billion Dollar worth of goods to Pakistan, while 'unofficial' trade that takes place via Dubai was to the tune of Rs two billion Dollars per annum," he added.

Pakistan was the second biggest importer of tea in the world and India had exported 15 million kgs out of Pakistan's total import of 140 m kg. We want to scale this up to 40 m kg in two years. The main export from Pakistan to India was cement. In the aftermath of Benazir's killing the cement supply may get hit, he said.

The minister is programmed to travel to Pakistan in March for trade talks but now it would depend on holding of elections. "If the election is held then I would be going if not there will be some amount of uncertainty," he said.

Mr Ramesh said that India had made a commitment to spend Rs 75 crore to improve infrastructure at Wagah border in Punjab from both ends. It had been decided to provide infrastructure for movement of container as well as rail traffic, he said.


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