New Delhi, January 18: Seeking to boost bilateral trade, India and Pakistan on Saturday decided to have a non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) programme, keep Wagha-Attari border open 24 hours throughout the year and facilitate the opening of bank branches in each other’s country.
“We have agreed that we will open Wagha-Attari border for trade 24X7…Central banks of the two countries in principally agreed to give banking licences to banks nominated by respective governments,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said at a press conference he held jointly with his Pakistani counterpart Khurram Dastagir Khan.
Meeting after a gap of 16 months, the Commerce Ministers of the two nations have agreed to have a NDMA on reciprocal basis.
Although the NDMA falls short of the expectations of a Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) status which India has been insisting on for long, Sharma said, “it is not the first time that such a terminology (NDMA) is used”.
Mr. Khan, who is here on an official visit, said: “Let us not (get) stranded on nomenclature.”
The two ministers also underlined the need for relaxing visa regime to facilitate travel of businessmen to each other’s country.
“For a robust economic relation to develop, businessmen of both sides need to visit each other’s country. (There is) need for further liberalisation of visa regime,” Mr. Sharma said.
As regards opening of branches, Mr. Khan said Pakistan has been waiting for the Reserve Bank of India to nominate banks that could be allowed to open branches in Pakistan.
The bilateral trade between the countries stood at $2.60 billion in 2012-13.