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Amid sinking economy, Pakistan keen to resume trade with India

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan: Pressure mounts on him to resume trade with India

Amid fast sagging economic contours and rising geopolitical uncertainties, chorus within Pakistan on early resumption of trade with India is increasing. After Pakistani billionaire tycoon Mian Muhammad Mansha made a strong pitch for resuming trade with India, Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production, and Investment has come out in support of the idea. Dawood said that trade with India was the need of the hour. He said that this would be beneficial to both countries.

“As far as the ministry of commerce is concerned, its position is to do trade with India. And my stance is that we should do trade with India and it should be opened now,” Dawood said while interacting with the media at an event organized by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.

“Many voices within the Imran Khan government now feel that the issue of Kashmir should not come in the way of economic relations with India. Trade and investments should be kept separate from the political contours but Khan’s continued obsession with Kashmir is now haunting many,” said an analyst.

Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan has never been significantly high, Islamabad’s exports to India dropped by 90.4 per cent in 2021. Trade between the two countries has been suspended since 2019.

Also read: Lack of governance, corruption and nepotism plague Pakistan's economy: Abdul Basit, Pak's former high commissioner to India

Pakistan based newspaper the Express Tribune in a report said “by calling trade with India the ‘need of the hour and beneficial to both countries’, the economic wizard has set the ball rolling.”

“The India with a billion plus population and GDP 10 times larger than Pakistan will be a lucrative market. India conventionally has had a trade surplus. Yet, Pakistan’s diversity in textile, agrarian produce and even finished goods can stand the litmus test of competition,” the report said.

According to a World Bank study undertaken in 2018, trade between India and Pakistan could go as high as $37 billion if the situation normalises.

Pakistan’s frequent use of tariffs to curb imports increases the prices of hundreds of consumer goods, the report said.

Earlier, Mansha, underlining the need for Pakistan to resume trade with India said that Islamabad should take a regional approach to economic development. “Europe fought two great wars, but ultimately settled for peace and regional development. There is no permanent enmity,” Mansha said.