New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said India has suggested setting up and activation of a private industry led-Joint Business Council to develop and enhance business relations at all levels with Uzebekistan including investments, trade in goods and services such as education and health.
Sitharaman held bilateral talks with visiting Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov and Foreign Trade Minister Elyor Ganiev on Wednesday to discuss deepening trade and economic ties between the two countries.
She said that if the draft agreement under negotiation between India-CIS Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Uzbek Chamber of Commerce is quickly finalised and the Joint Business Council commences work, then it would be a very positive development for enhancing bilateral economic and trade relations.
The ministers underlined the high importance of transport and logistics infrastructure for strengthening bilateral trade ties.
Sitharaman also urged for reduction of import duty on leather goods and footwear in Uzbekistan from current 30 to 10 per cent, which is current Most Favored Nation (MFN) rate in India. She said that India could source finished leather from Uzbekistan.
She also asked the Uzbek Ministers to consider reducing higher import duty on Indian engineering exports to Uzbekistan.
“The Commerce Minister requested Uzbek Ministers to consider reduction of import tariff imposed by Uzbekistan which are comparatively higher especially on fabrics and made-ups (up to 30 per cent), reduction in higher MFN duty on Ready Made Garments (RMG) products which is 31.1 per cent and simplifying the procedure for registration and certification,” the ministry said in a statement.
Sitharaman said that existence of Non-Tariff Barriers such as import quotas and licensing, price and foreign exchange control, complex customs and administrative procedures, harsh sanitary norms and outright border closures have also been limiting inter-regional trade.
She also sought simplified procedures for granting visa to Indian businessmen and tourists and expressed the hope that if visa issues are resolved, tourism will also receive impetus in both countries.
Ganiev said that the Uzbek government was seriously working to liberalise and simplify various procedures, systems and norms and expressed hope that most of difficulties faced by exporters would get resolved shortly.
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