Published On: Wed, Jan 22nd, 2014
Published in Category: International

India, Pakistan need to take steps to boost trade

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NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan need to work on areas such as complete liberalisation of trade process, harmonisation of regional standards and enhanced sectoral cooperation to stabilise trade relations between the nations, a top commerce ministry official today said.

“The stability (in trade between India and Pakistan) can only come when there is a concept of value chain , when there is a sectoral cooperation, when there is a fully liberalised trade, when regional standards are harmonised and improvement in infrastructure for trade facilitation,” Special Secretary in the Commerce Ministry Rajeev Kher said.

He was speaking at the ICRIER’s function on ‘Normalising India-Pakistan Trade’ here.

In his “personal view”, he said these are the five-six areas where both the countries have to work hard to bring stability in their trade relationship. Kher also said that both sides should stick to the roadmap of September 2012. As per the roadmap, Pakistan would remove restrictions on trade through land route and cut the number of items on the sensitive list in a phased manner.

“You have a roadmap and I think the biggest thing which is important today is to respect that roadmap because that will give an unemotional hard core trade oriented signal,” Kher added.

During the last week meeting of trade ministers of India and Pakistan, both the sides agreed on a non-discriminatory market access programme in place of the MFN regime, besides opening up Wagah-Attari border round the clock to enhance bilateral trade. He asked Pakistan to remove its apprehension over opening of sectors like automobile, pharmaceutical and agriculture.

“India does not have non-tariff barriers specific to a country in South Asia,” he added. Further, Kher said there is need to strengthen the regional integration of South Asian countries to improve bilateral relations.

Citing examples of strong regional blocs like European Union , ASEAN and NAFTA, he said that SAARC should have to do tremendous work in making itself a strong group. “The intra-SAARC trade is very low in terms of regional integration. There are reasons which lie in history and non – tariff barriers…there are also reasons which need to go into some more thinking on how do we want to shape this region on trade and investment issues over the next 10-15 years,” he added.

Kher emphasised on the need for sectoral integration among the SAARC region. “Huge amount of goods and services would be required in the years to come for domestic consumption within the region and this is not going to grow in one country. It will be produced in the entire region,” he said. The bilateral trade between India and Pakistan stood at $2.6 billion in 2012-13 as against $1.93 billion in 2011-12 and $2.37 billion in 2010-11.
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