India Committed to Reduce Tariff Lines under Sensitive List by 20% by Next Month: Anand Sharma Peak Tariff Rates to be 8% for Imports from Pakistan by January 2012

Shri Anand Sharma, the Union Minister for Commerce, Industry and Textiles, has announced that India will meet its commitment of reducing tariff lines under sensitive list by 20% for all by next month. This will fulfil a critical requirement of the SAFTA agreement signed by SAARC member countries. “Time has come to take a call on reduction of barriers to trade. SAFTA is moving forward on the path of economic integration and India should give full support so that the region realises it full potential” he said on the occasion of the First Meeting of the South Asia Forum, here today.

The Minister also informed that India has been bringing down the peak tariffs under SAFTA in a very transparent manner for imports from Pakistan and the peak rates would be 8 percent. As per the Minutes of the meeting of India –Pakistan Joint Working Group on “Economic Commercial Cooperation and Trade Promotion” held on 23-24 August in New Delhi the peak tariff rates would be 8% by 1st January 2012 and again by 5% by 1st January 2013. As per the minutes the Pakistani side assured that they will also work internally towards meeting its SAFTA obligation to India. India has already allowed zero duty access for the SAARC Least Developed Countries, for almost 97% of the total tariff lines. He said that “India is keen to engage more with Pakistan and develop deeper economic linkages. That will give more depth and width to our relationship.”

India’s trade with SAARC stands at mere US$ 13 billion at a time when our global trade has expanded to cross US$ 600 billion. Indian companies have stepped out and engaged in foreign shores investing over US$ 100 billion and more than 90% of this investment has been outside South Asia. India investment flows into SAARC have been around US$ 10 billion. “This clearly brings out the imperative of creating a more conducive investment climate a more harmonious linkage between our industry bodies and a strong political commitment for an integrated South Asia” Shri Sharma added.

FICCI in partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is hosting the first meeting of South Asia Forum. Being the first of its kind in South Asia, the meeting is supported by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. The Forum is driven by focused discussions and active sharing of experiences & best practices among South Asia’s diverse public and private stakeholders, for charting out the future course of SAARC and recommend if required, necessary improvements in the existing mechanisms. The Objective and scope of the South Asia Forum will serve as an open platform for generation of debate, discussion and exchange of ideas on South Asia and its future development; and would provide inputs for charting out the future course of SAARC in the medium and long run.

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