Pakistan has decided in principle to allow import of all tradable items on land routes from India, an official source told Dawn on Saturday.
In absolute terms, this decision will allow India to export more than 5,600 items via land route especially the Wagha boarder as against the current slightly over 100 items allowed via a land route to Pakistan.
`We have already submitted a summary to the federal cabinet in this regard to seek approval`, an official of the commerce ministry confirmed to Dawn, but requested not to be named.
Currently, Pakistan has placed 1209 items on the negative list, which were not allowed for trade either through sea, air and land routes but has already set a deadline for itself to completely phase out this negative list by end of this year.
The commerce secretaries of Pakistan and India, who met in Islamabad in September, had agreed to a number of specific steps and timelines for implementing the trade liberalisation programme.
Pakistan, according to the official has agreed to allow trade of goods on land route from India and decision to this was expected by end of October 31.
Asked whether Pakistan backtracked from its earlier decision on allowing more trade on land routes, the official said that Pakistan was very much on it and the delay was just because of procedural hiccups.
The official explained that European Union got a waiver from the WTO in February 2012 on allowing import of 75 items import from Pakistan in a preferential package but it took Brussels more than nine months to implement the decision.`You can not blame any country for the delay because every decision involves feedback from stakeholders and compliance to domestic laws and procedures`, the official commented.
To make the trade via land route more meaningful, the official said, Pakistan was also considering opening of two more land routes, Jailsalmer and Khokharapar routes. The progress on the opening of these routes was at an advanced stage.
The secretary Commerce Munir Qureshi confirmed to Dawn that the central bank was considering the application of these banks.
He, however, disclosed that no such request was received by the central bank from Indian banks.
Both sides have already agreed to reduce the number of items to 100 in the sensitive list before the end of 2017 under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (Safta) on a reciprocal basis.