Pakistan and India’s “engine of bilateral trade is primed for start-up”, said a daily Saturday.
An editorial in the News International said: “…An extremely large and potentially powerful engine, it appears, is ready to fire up, and the first day of the Pak-India trade talks in Islamabad ended Thursday with the two sides agreeing to resolve the issues of the non-tariff barriers and the phasing out of the negative lists.”
The commerce secretary-level talks between the two neighbours were also attended by representatives of the central banks and foreign ministries of both countries, and people from the power sector, the railways and civil aviation.
“These are the men and women who, if anything is to happen, will be the ones to pour in the oil and turn on the ignition. They are the real movers and shakers that come into play once the diplomatic details are agreed and the treaties signed,” said the daily.
It noted that the agreements “will allow the formulation of a set of rules – the future standard operating procedures or SOPs – that will facilitate the implementation of the agreements. Without such detailed agreements there can be no moving forwards.
“Such work may lack the headline-grabbing capacity of high-level diplomacy and photo-ops, but it is what is going to make the engine of trade between the two nations run smoothly,” it said.
The daily went on to say that there was discussion about potential cooperation in construction, air links, courier and communications services and the promotion of small and medium enterprises on both sides of the border.
“There is to be a harmonisation of regulatory bodies, and a look at how double taxation can be avoided – the nuts and bolts commerce,” it said.
“This is not to say that all will be smooth sailing, because it will not. There will be glitches and misunderstandings – genuine rather than contrived – and there are anxieties among some sectors of the business community on both sides of the border about how level, or not, the playing field is. But the groundwork is now laid and the engine of bilateral trade, almost unthinkable even two years ago, is primed for start-up,” the editorial added.