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India eyes $12 billion trade with Pakistan

08 May, 2012

LAHORE: Indian High Commissioner Sharat Shabarwal on Monday said that India and Pakistan should target $12 billion trade within next five years, asserting, “Our growing economic agenda also includes finalisation of modalities of electricity trade between the two countries and trade in petroleum products.”

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LAHORE: Indian High Commissioner Sharat Shabarwal on Monday said that India and Pakistan should target $12 billion trade within next five years, asserting, “Our growing economic agenda also includes finalisation of modalities of electricity trade between the two countries and trade in petroleum products.”

The Indian envoy was addressing a two-day second Aman Ki Asha Economic Conference under the theme of ‘Dividends' at a local hotel on Monday to discuss ways and means to improve and strengthen relations between Pakistan and India.

The moot involves Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Pakistan Business Council (PBC), Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and the National Bank of Pakistan.

Shabarwal said that India wanted to build a relationship of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation with Pakistan. He said that there was a keen desire on both sides to improve trade and economic links, bridge the information gap between business communities and address each other's concerns. “A number of business delegations have travelled in both countries to bridge the information gap and dialogue between the two commerce ministries has led to a number of important steps,” he added.

Shabarwal said the moot would enable businessmen of both sides to discuss modalities to expand trade and economic relations between the two countries, particularly in the light of opportunities arisen as a result of interaction between the commerce ministries over the last one year.

The Indian high commissioner also appreciated the decision of the Pakistan government to accord MFN (Most Favoured Nation) status to India, as well as to move from a positive list of imports from India to a negative list. “We hope that the negative list will be phased out by the end of the year, as planned. The step will also pave the way for preferential trade between the countries under the South Asian Free Trade Area Agreement or (SAFTA),” he maintained.

He said that significant steps had also been taken to address concerns and apprehensions of the business communities on both sides, adding that India and Pakistan also initialed three agreements in areas of customs cooperation, mutual recognition of testing laboratories and redress of trade grievances and they would be signed and put into effect in coming weeks.

Shabarwal said, “We will like to carry the process of trade liberalisation forward in a manner to create a win-win situation for both sides.” He added that in February India had supported approval of the European Union trade concessions package for Pakistan by the WTO General Council. “We are ready to commence discussion on reducing the size of sensitive lists under SAFTA. India has also agreed to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from Pakistan for which necessary procedures and requirements are being formulated,” he maintained. In his address at Aman Ki Asha Economic Conference, CII President Adi Godrej said the organisation was also focusing on bilateral trade relations, deepening and strengthening people-to-people contact and sharing heritage. The CII, he added, wanted to enhance Pak-India exports, however, a lot has yet to be done to reach the full potential of each other. “Matters pertaining to FDI, non-tariff barriers, energy trade, opening of air and land trade routes between the two countries needed greater focus,” he said, and added, “Then we will be able to converge our potential to gain $10 billion bilateral trade volume by 2015.”

PBC Chairman Asad Umar also expressed the same view by saying that the PBC wished improved trade ties with India and as soon barriers were removed it would be better for citizens of both countries, and that “we will really be entering into a meaningful relationship”.

He, however, expressed concern that Pakistan textile products were not given attention by the Indian side, which had focused on textile exports from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and added that unless India resolved the matter, the Pak-India peace initiative could not bear tangible results.

Kansal said ‘Aman Ki Asha' was aimed at opening new windows in each other's minds by involving the media and civil society. “Under this peace initiative, we have stressed upon cultural relations and economic cooperation to get closer together and share our potential for the benefit of both sides as well as to enhance people-to-people contact,” he added.

In his welcome address, Hasan said the ‘Aman Ki Asha' peace initiative campaign was launched on January 1, 2010, to create awareness among the people on both sides of the divide to take dividends of maintaining a peaceful relationship. He termed President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani's visits to India a great leap in Pak-India ties. He observed, “We have struggled too far on the political side but could not improve the economic sector despite both countries have great potential to alleviate poverty and unemployment by working together.”

End.


 
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