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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 14, 2007
Pakistan creating hurdles to free South Asia trade: Jairam Ramesh
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Pakistan creating hurdles to free South Asia trade: Jairam Ramesh

Minister of State for Commerce and Industries Jairam Ramesh has said that Pakistan is creating hurdles to South Asian free trade zone.

Srinagar, May 14 : Minister of State for Commerce and Industries Jairam Ramesh has said that Pakistan is creating hurdles to South Asian free trade zone.

"SAARC Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) has been implemented and we are bound under its terms.

But it is unfortunate that Pakistan has not yet given the MFN status to India, the basis of international trade. Even, today, there are too many controls that have been put by Pakistan on imports from India," Ramesh said on the sidelines of an awards ceremony here on Sunday evening.

A two-day summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) held in New Delhi last month called for the implementation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Among other things, the SAARC joint declaration called for ensuring effective market access to the eight member countries through the smooth implementation of the SAARC Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).

The free trade system launched last year, one of the biggest projects of SAARC, has not been fully implemented due to differences between India and Pakistan.

Progress, however, has been crippled by hostilities between India and Pakistan as well as domestic conflicts, political instability and regional disputes between the two countries.

Ramesh also said that New Delhi would like to allow trade across the disputed military ceasefire line dividing the Kashmir region.

"We know it has been a longstanding demand of the people from this region. The Indian Government is considering it seriously. We have made proposals to this effect.

But we can have forward movement on the issue only through diplomatic channels. We cannot take a unilateral decision. We need to have discussions with Pakistan. In principle, we are in favour of greater economic integration and free trade across the Line of Control (LoC)," he added.

India and Pakistan had decided to launch a truck service across the LoC two years ago, but reports said New Delhi has linked it to Islamabad implementing SAFTA.

ANI

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