Improved Indo-Pak trade to augur well for entire Saarc region: Sabharwal
December 19, 2012
The Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal has said that improved trade relations between India and Pakistan would trigger the pace of development and would affect positively on the whole SAARC region. Pakistan has great potential for development and we should seek enhanced co-operation in various fields.
Addressing the members of the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association here, Sharat Sabharwal recognised the vibrant role of textile exporters in the economic progress of Pakistan and to provide meaningful proposals for enhancement in Indo-Pak bilateral trade. Productive Indo Pak dialogues and subsequent development was not only beneficial for the two countries but would also integrate the South Asian region, he said.
He said that the pace of economic growth in South Asia was slow and intra-regional trade in the SAARC block was only 5% while in ASEAN it was 25% and in the EU it was about 65%. Consequent to Indo-Pak bilateral talks and its progress, new synergies and opportunities would be created in the SAARC region. He urged them to find new avenues to promote economic integration as the combined GDP of Indian and Pakistan was over 2 Trillion. He voiced his gratitude to the business communities of the two countries who co-operated and pushed the two governments to move forward.
Highlighting the latest developments by Indo-Pak Governments on bilateral relations, High Commissioner of India elaborated that the two governments have liberalised the visa regime and prioritised the opening of banks branches in the respective countries while India has also allowed Pakistani investors to invest in India. The Negative list will be dismantled by December 2012 thereafter it is likely that there would be a normalised WTO trade regime.
India has reduced its SAFTA sensitive list by 30 percent from 878 tariff lines to 614 tariff lines. Upon full transition to MFN status, India would thereafter bring its SAFTA sensitive list to 100 tariff lines by April 2013. Both countries have to walk last mile to start moving towards preferential trade by the end of this year; two countries can create an enabling environment while the business communities have to explore new horizons for commercial co-operation, he concluded.
Earlier Asghar Ali, chairman PTEA welcomed the Indian High Commissioner and termed new trade relations as a positive sign for both countries. He said that Pakistan and India were the two biggest economies of the region but bilateral trade between the two countries was negligible. Opening trade with India would present countless opportunities to both the countries, he said and added that at the time of independence, 60% to 70% of the total trade of both countries was with each other. Instead of going forward, the two countries have rolled back.
The current quantum of trade between India and Pakistan is less than a quarter of the potential. Due to trading restrictions and tariff measures, most of the indirect and unaccounted for trade is routed through the Gulf countries. Formal arrangements of greater direct trade would prove to be useful as it would result in lesser freight and shorter lead time, he suggested. Later PTEA souvenirs were presented to the Indian High Commissioner and Indian political counsellor. A large number of textile exporters were present on the occasion.