Islamabad, August 28:

Pakistan and India have agreed to grant each other transshipment facilities for exports via sea to third countries, a senior official has said. The two countries will also expedite the opening of bank branches and increase the number of destinations in either country their airlines can fly to. The agreements came during the August 9-10 talks in New Delhi on commercial and economic cooperation, Daily Times reported. India had made three other proposals at the talks: permanently opening the Wagah-Atari land border for trade, grant of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status, and for transit facilities across Pakistan for goods destined for Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics. Pakistan, according to the official, had rejected all three proposals, linking them to progress on resolving the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir.

Currently, Indian and Pakistani ships are not allowed to drop off goods bound for third countries at each other’s ports. The Shipping Protocol the two countries signed in 1974 will be amended to enable this, the official said. According to him, the Pakistani government had in 1985 agreed to amend the protocol but this did not materialise. On the opening of bank braches in each other’s countries, the official said this would facilitate trade under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) that is scheduled to come into force January 1. Banks would play an important role if both countries allow-ed their corporate sectors to invest in either country. On MFN status, the official said India was seeking a reciprocal arrangement sin-ce it had granted to Pakistan.