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India, Pak sign revised shipping protocol

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Dec 14 (UNI) Removing a major irritant in their maritime trade, India and Pakistan today signed a revised Shipping Protocol, replacing the 1975 protocol which has so far restricted lifting of cargo destined to the other country by the vessels belonging only to the two countries.

The revised protocol was signed here this evening by Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister T R Baalu and Pakistan Minister for Ports and Shipping Babar Khan Ghauri.

It replaces the protocol on resumption of shipping services signed by India and Pakistan in 1975. Under the existing protocol, the vessels of India or Pakistan could not lift the cargo destined to or from other countries from each other's ports. These restrictions were causing hindrances in the flow of cargo between the two countries.

A Shipping Department official said removing these restrictions were under consideration, especially in view of the rising trade between the two countries. This port-based trade last year had grown to 860 million dollars with a phenomenal growth rate of 43 per cent.

''Such a situation has made it imperative to review the shipping protocol between India and Pakistan,'' the official said.

India-Pakistan technical talks on shipping were held at Karachi on December 8-10 December last year, and the new protocol was negotiated by the officials of two sides during this meeting.

The revised protocol signed today removes restrictions on lifting of third country cargo by Indian and Pakistani vessels from each other's ports. It also lifts the restriction that the cargo destined for the other country can be carried only by an Indian or Pakistani vessel. Third country flag will also be able to carry India or Pakistan-bound cargo.

''The revised protocol will help shipping companies of both the countries and also improve shipping links,'' the official added.

UNI SKS DKA BD2142

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