Pakistan wants political settlement to drive trade with India

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New Delhi, Nov 12 (UNI) Without naming irritants between Pakistan and India, Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik here today said econmic relations between the two neighbouring countries can only be sustained by settling "political disputes".

But Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jairam Ramesh attributed sluggishness in mutual economic relations to "NATO"(No Action Talks Only) bureaucracies in the two countries.

The two made these observations at a day-long confernce organised by industry chambers of the two countries with the support of Saarc chamber of commerce and industry.

While Mr Shahid urged India to address the issue of 32 non-tariff trade barriers, Mr Jairam Ramesh offered to help Pakistan to set up an internatinally-accredited laboratory to address the issue of one such barrier relating to quality and certification.

India, he said, has set up such a lab in Dhaka and now Bangladesh exporters face no such problem on trade with India. India is willing to accept quality certification by a Pakistan labs; provided these are accredited to internationally recognised bodies or are accredited to National Accredition Board for Testing and Calibration Labortaries of India, he added.

The Indian Minister urged Pakistan to think in terms of mutual investment to drive up economic engagement between the two nations, adding trade is 20th century concept but investment is 21st century imperative to push up econmic relations between nations.

Citing India's growing economic engagement with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, he urged Pakistan also to encourage its industry to invest in this country the way Sri Lankan companies have invested in Andhra Pradesh.

Both India and Pakistan should remove each other from their respective negative list for FDI to strengthen trade and investment in the two countries, Mr Ramesh later told the media.

The Minister said Pakistan has agreed to lay optic fibre on its side for better telecom connectivity, adding the link would be fully functional by 2009.

He said India has started work on the Rs 150 crore integrated checkpost and upgrading immigration facilities on its side at Attari-Wagah border, adding the project will be completed by 2011.

Pakistan, he said, has informed they would commission similar facilities on their side by 2009.

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