LAHORE - The Indian government has agreed to reduce its Sensitive List, maintained under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement, to only 100 items from present list of 614 items by April 2013.

Official sources in commerce ministry told The Nation that India will further lower duty on 514 items being imported from Pakistan, excluding them from sensitive list, and protect just 100 products of its country, keeping high tariff regime on their import.

This was decided under the regional trade agreement of SAFTA, already promised under the bilateral trade normalisation plan on the condition that Pakistan will also reduce the negative list to zero level, opening the import of banned items from India to be traded via land route.

The officials said that presently Pakistan has maintained a negative list which is to be phased out in December this year along with a sensitive list, consisting of 950 tariff lines, which will be brought down to also 100 items within next five years.

They said that both Pakistan and India have also decided that Wagah route will remain open for seven days a week, against six days a week at present.

The two countries also considering the proposal of bilateral trade in local currency but not yet, they added.

They said that Pakistan has assured India that it would extensively expand the list of goods that can be traded across the Wagah border, besides end of negative list by December.

They said that in earlier meetings held in New Delhi and Islamabad, the two countries also discussed the issues of trade through other land routes, import of petroleum products, removal of NTBs, cooperation in telecommunication sector and connecting New Delhi and Islamabad via air route. The next round of talks will be held in New Delhi in April 2013, they stated.

They said that both neighbouring countries are also looking into the process of re-opening Munabhao-Khokhrapar land route, besides opening of several other routes in future. They said that Munabhao-Khokhrapar land route will initially be opened for traveling of passengers, however later trade between the two countries will also be allowed.

Sources said that the ongoing trade normalisation process would also facilitate in implementation of the aims of multi-model connectivity for trade even beyond SAARC region while spreading the trade to Central Asian states and Middle East.

Sources said that numbers of initiatives have been taken by the two governments in order to remove barriers. They said that to remove technical hurdles and tariff barriers both India and Pakistan have inked three different agreements, which included Redressal of Trade Grievances Agreement, the Mutual Recognitions Agreement, and the Customs Cooperation Agreement.

They said that apart from India, Pakistan was initiating Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) with China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Russian Federation, Central Asian Countries, Iran, Mauritius, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Jordan and Sri Lanka.

Government other market access initiatives includes, ECO Trade Agreement, Pakistan-India Trade Normalisation Process, SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services and Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area.

FPCCI regional chairman, while commenting on liberalisation of trade between India and Pakistan, said that achievements shown by several Pakistani companies during the last few months in India are remarkable.