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INDIA and Pakistan have agreed to jointly file application for geographical indications (GIs) on basmati, ending their dispute over the premium long-grain aromatic rice. India also agreed to expedite the process related to certification of cement from Pakistan. In turn, India requested Pakistan to include 484 additional items in the list of about 1,000 odd items which Pakistan allows to be imported from India.

In a joint statement following the meeting between commerce secretaries from India and Pakistan in New Delhi, the two countries stated their intention of setting up a technical committee for filing joint GI application for basmati.

India and Pakistan also decided to allow banks from the two countries to open two branches each in the other country. Applications of banks would be processed by December 31 this year or within six months.

Commerce secretary G K Pillai led the Indian delegation in the two-day talks under the ongoing composite dialogue, while the Pakistan team was led his counterpart Syed Asif Ali Shah.

On cement, India also agreed to make changes in regulation to accept third party certification for import of the construction of the raw material. India wants to import cement from Pakistan to meet domestic requirements, but shipments are sometimes delayed due to quality certification procedure followed by Bureau of Indian Standards.

Pakistan also welcomed India’s decision to set up a task force to address its complaint that rules such as quality standards act as barriers for export of its goods like cement.

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