Experts urge increased bilateral trade between India and Pakistan

Islamabad, January 29, 2013 (PPI-OT): Experts at a roundtable discussion have urged increased bilateral trade between India and Pakistan and said that trade could be a catalyst for peace by enhancing bilateral relations, increasing economic growth and reducing poverty in the region.

The roundtable on “India Pakistan Trade: Post Conflict Scenario” was organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Tuesday.

Speaking at the occasion, Ejaz Haider, Senior Advisor, SDPI referred to the fact that regardless of the relations between the countries around the world, usually the trade continues uninterested. He cited examples of China-Taiwan, as well as China-Japan, where bilateral trade was not hindered by political tensions. In case of India and Pakistan, he argued that the trade has been taking place through informal channels and suggested to bring it into formal channel.

Former Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi highlighted the sheer need of long-term policy planning in Pakistan. He cited Chinese example, where they set long-term goal of increasing middle class income and all state policies were directed to achieve this goal. “No matter what relations China had with foreign nations, this long-term goal was never compromised,” he added. The former ambassador asked Pakistan to follow Chinese suite and place long term strategic goals.

Mohsin Khalid, Former President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Director, Ittehad Steel presented businessman’s point of view at the discussion. He said, current bilateral trade between India and Pakistan is negligible and added that this can be increased manifold if right policies are emplaced.

He also deplored poor infrastructure, extremely expensive container transportation and the dismal security situation that causes needless delays. “When infrastructure is improved and the cost of doing business with India decreases, the businesses will automatically start trading with each other and there will be no need for agreements on paper, he added.

Journalist Mubarak Zeb Khan was of the view that business pressure groups having specific vested interests are behind the lack of trade between India and Pakistan. “Specific business lobbies, particularly those in the automobile, textile and pharmaceutical industries were against free trade with India,” he added.

He also spoke on history of trade relations between the two countries and highlighted that both countries in their early years of independence traded relatively freely and in huge amounts but later political tensions started determining trade patterns and it almost eroded.

For more information, contact:
Faisal Nadeem Gorchani
Coordinator, Policy Advocacy and Outreach
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)
38 Embassy Road, G-6/3 Islamabad, Pakistan
Postal Code: 44000
Tel: +92-51-2278134, (Ext: 113)
Fax: +92-51-2278135
Cell: 00-92-333-559 2210