ISLAMABAD

The new Indian government through backdoor channel has expressed positive response for initiating composite dialogue with Pakistan that would ultimately resume the trade talks between Islamabad and New Delhi.

“Currently, the trade talks between India and Pakistan had halted, which will begin once both countries start composite dialogue”, said the Federal Minister for Commerce, Engr Khurram Dastgir Khan while talking to a selective group of journalists on Wednesday. “We got positive response from the new Indian government through backdoor channel for initiating talks”, he informed. The Commerce Minister admitted that issue of granting Most Favoured Nation/ non-discriminatory market access would take more time, as both the sides would have to convince each other on their viewpoint. Khurram Dastgir Khan said Pakistan was ready to grant NDMA status to India in March 2014, as New Delhi had accepted Islamabad’s request not to include its textile goods in sensitive list of 100 commodities. However, Pakistan had deferred the decision keeping in view Indian’s election process and to negotiate with new government. “I am still optimistic to resume talks on the same package agreed in March 2014,” he said. He further informed that Pakistan would issue the notifications of granting NDMA/MFN and allowing 24 hours trade through Wahga boarder at the same time when Indian government notify the sensitive list consisting 100 items, not including textile goods.

On a question about his meeting with his Indian counterpart on July 22 in Bhutan, the Commerce Minister said, “The meeting is not finalised yet”. He further informed that government has taken a decision to establish land port authorities at Chaman, Wagah border and Torkham, he said and added “We will start work on these land port authorities very soon.” Meanwhile, addressing a press conference here on Thursday, Federal Minister for Commerce, Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan briefed the media on performance of Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP). He informed that TCP has succeeded in saving funds worth of Rs 7.109 billion during previous financial year 2013-14 due to professional approach, transparency measures, best management practice and timely decisions.  Commerce Minister said that TCP imported 1,153,891.423 MT Urea in the financial year 2013-14. TCP is the only entity that is sustaining Gwadar Port in Balochistan, as 50 percent urea has been imported through this port. In the last financial year 2013-14, out of total 28 ships of urea, 17 vessels, carrying 648,968 MTs, were berthed at Gwadar port.  Khurram Dastgir said TCP has procured 411,855 MT sugar in 2013-14, through open tenders from local sugar mills for supply to the Utility Stores Corporation for its further sale to the public at affordable price.  Talking about rationalisation of human resources, the Commerce Minister said rationalisation of TCP would result into saving of Rs99.687 million per annum. This rationalisation has been done due to effective computerisation & mechanical techniques. Meanwhile, the electricity consumption has been decreased by 5,430 units, showing a decrease of around 26percent as compared to the last year. The Commerce Minister said that TCP has recovered long outstanding recoveries including Rs 3.54 billion from USC and Rs 1.5b from NFML during previous financial year 2013-14. During the current year, TCP had earned an amount of Rs.106, 675,909/- on account of rentals. Later, replaying to a question, the Commerce Minister said that exports would register increase of 4-6 percent during the previous fiscal year. He informed that country’s exports would increase to $50 billion in next four years from existing $25b.