The Pakistani Minister would visit India from January 15-17 to attend SAARC Business Leaders Conclave. He will hold talks with Sharma to discuss the bilateral trade issues, especially trade liberalization matters.

Media reports said that major decisions were expected in the Commerce Ministers’ talks, and that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is likely to announce new measures seeking improved trade and economic ties with New Delhi.

The Nation reported that the government might give an assurance to the Indian government to reduce the items on the negative list from exiting 1,209 items from next year 2014.

India, at present, can export all items to Pakistan other than the 1,209 items put on the negative list. However, there is unlikely to be any forward movement on the issue of granting MFN status to India.

Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has already made it clear that there was no immediate plan to give MFN status to India, while saying there was a need to normalise relations between the two countries. Dar’s remarks came even after Pakistan had assured the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), as part of USD 6.64 billion loan agreement, to grant the MFN status to India.

"We are moving forward to eliminate the negative list on trade with India and extend India the most favoured nation status," Pakistan had said in a letter to the IMF.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who was in India recently, has said that the government will seek cooperation from the Punjab government in India for installing bio-gas‚ bio-mass power generation plants and other alternate resources.
    
Speaking to a delegation of Indian energy sector experts in Lahore yesterday, Shahbaz said the government is committed to overcome the energy crisis and will seek assistance from every available quarter for the purpose.
    
The head of the Indian delegation‚ Perveet Baadal, expressed his readiness to cooperate with the Punjab government for installing power plants based on alternate resources. Pakistan is likely to sign an initial deal for import of electricity from Delhi.
    
India has offered to supply about 500 MW of electricity in the beginning and this plan could be implemented within a year by laying of a transmission line.
    
A senior government official said Pakistan felt that it could import 2,000-2,500 MW of power from India to tackle the acute shortage. The power crisis has hit Pakistan's economic growth, bringing it down to 3 per cent a year.
    
India has also expressed interest in exporting oil but since Pakistani refineries produce low-quality oil and India produces oil of Euro 2, 3 and 4 standards, they may not be able to press ahead with the plan.

(Agencies)

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