Remove trade barriers: Pakistan

Himalayan News Service

Islamabad, June 19:

Pakistan has urged India to lift tariff and non-tariff barriers to create a level playing field for businessmen from this country and enhance trade ties between the two countries. Quoting official sources, Dawn reported today that number of tariff and non-tariff barriers had been identified between the two countries, with New Delhi making promises to remove major complaints of the Pakistani exporters and importers. “The first stage was to identify these barriers. Now, when they have been identified, we don’t know why India is still reluctant to do the needful,” a finance ministry official said. Pakistan, according to the official, was a more open and unrestrained economy compared to India, where a number of restrictions still existed. He said a joint committee had held detailed discussions to promote increased trade and now the ball was in the Indian court to ensure level playing field. As far as Pakistan was concerned, the official said, enough had been done to the satisfaction of India and their businessmen.

Pakistan, he said, had introduced a zero-rate export regime and offered a number of facilities to its importers, aiming at promoting trade relations with the outside world, especially with its neighbours, including India. He said the livestock sector had been opened to India and it was for exporters from across the border to take advantage. “We took the strategic decision to promote trade relations with India,” official said, adding that Pak businessmen were now looking towards the Indian government to reciprocate by removing tariff and non-tariff barriers. Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan is currently less than one per cent of their global trade. Pakistan maintains a ‘permissible list’ of 600 items like chemicals, minerals,

metal products, cardamom and tires that may be legally imported from India. Most finished products and white goods are not part of this list. India and Pakistan have an official annual trade of around Rs 2 billion Indian Currency (IC) but exports through third countries total nearly Rs 1 billion IC. Experts say trade could rise to nearly Rs 4 billion IC if they started trading with each other directly.

Hard bargain

ISLAMABAD: India has laid down two preconditions for permitting duty-free exports of five food items to Pakistan: enabling trade to Afgha-nistan and Central Asia via Pakistan, and also

permanently opening the land route through a border crossing in Punjab, a media reported.

“New Delhi has barred its business community from exporting five food items to Pakistan, which the government had recently allowed to be imported from India to control inflation,” Daily Times reported, quoting a senior government official. The government had in April decided to allow the import of livestock, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes and onions from India as a one-time deal to stabilise their prices in the country. “India wants to export these items on a regular basis by opening the land route through the Wagah border. It has also renewed its for permission to export its goods to Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics through Pakistani territory,” the newspaper reported. —HNS