Re­mov­ing Bar­ri­ers

Southasia - - REGULAR FEATURES -

Pak­istan-in­dia trade has se­verely been ham­pered over the years due to break­downs in com­mu­ni­ca­tion; lack of avail­able la­bor and more im­por­tantly, due to strin­gent trade poli­cies. A re­cent meet­ing be­tween the In­dian joint sec­re­tary for Com­merce, Arvind Me­hta, head­ing a five-mem­ber del­e­ga­tion of In­dian reg­u­la­tors and LCCI Pres­i­dent, Ir­fan Qaiser Sheikh, head­ing Pak­istani traders, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Trade De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity of Pak­istan and the Fed­eral Joint Sec­re­tary of Com­merce Min­istry, was held re­cently. Three agree­ments have been fi­nal­ized to re­move non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers. The final agree­ment is ex­pected to be signed in March dur­ing the In­dian Com­merce Min­is­ter’s visit to Pak­istan.

The agree­ments in­clude the Cus­toms Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment to pre­vent ar­bi­trary halt­ing of goods at each other’s ports, the Mu­tual Recog­ni­tion Agree­ment for ac­cep­tance of cer­tifi­cates of in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­cred­ited lab­o­ra­to­ries, and the Re­dres­sal of Griev­ances Agree­ment in case of any dis­agree­ment. Fur­ther­more, the tar­iff line in In­dia for Pak­istan will be re­duced to 5 per­cent from the cur­rent 8 per­cent, by the end of the year.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from In­dian Cus­toms ad­mit­ted of poor in­fra­struc­ture, in­sti­tu­tional frame­work and la­bor man­age­ment, which ob­structed trans­porta­tion of con­sign­ments across the bor­der, de­layed the ob­tain­ing of agri­cul­tural per­mits and clear­ance re­ports and also caused the Pak­istani side ex­ten­sive losses in terms of trans­porta­tion costs. To in­crease trans­parency and ef­fi­ciency, the two sides are work­ing on a three-tier so­lu­tion – daily or lo­cal prob­lems will be han­dled at the bor­der. A meet­ing be­tween the Cus­toms col­lec­tors will be held once in two months and one meet­ing at the min­is­te­rial level re­gard­ing pol­icy mat­ters would be held once in ev­ery six months. Li­cens­ing re­quire­ments per­tain­ing to health, san­i­tary con­di­tions, im­ports of ve­hi­cles and tex­tile spe­cific bar­ri­ers would also be ad­dressed. Qual­ity stan­dards im­proved on both ends and Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties asked the In­dian del­e­ga­tion to re­cip­ro­cate and ac­com­mo­date 150 trucks through In­dian cus­toms. An in­crease in wheeler trucks and of­fload­ing equip­ment was also dis­cussed, to en­sure of­fload­ing on both borders and ex­pe­dite the clear­ance of con­sign­ments.

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