Indian businessmen urged Pakistan on Wednesday to speed up normalisation of trade and travel ties between the nuclear-armed rivals, after India’s commerce minister arrived in Pakistan with hopes that thawed trade links could help ease political tension.
Pakistan agreed last November to open up more trade with India by replacing a list of items its bigger neighbour can sell across the border with a shorter list of items that cannot be traded – a move regarded as key to improving commercial ties.
“It’s not peace that will lead to trade, but trade that will lead to peace ... the direction is right but the speed is not fast enough,” Rajya Kanoria, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, told Reuters.
“That’s the message I would like to give to the government of Pakistan and to the government of India. More to Pakistan, because that is really where the problems are right now. The signals coming out are mixed.”
Pakistan late last year agreed in principle to grant access to imports from India under Most Favoured Nation status but has yet to fully implement the change. But Islamabad also accuses India of dragging its feet on reducing or removing non-tariff barriers to Pakistani goods.
Indian businessmen, part of a trade delegation headed by Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma that arrived on Monday, said their Pakistani counterparts had showed enthusiasm towards normalising trade.
“The pulse of the business community in Pakistan is in favour of economic engagement with India, opening up the trade,” Vikramjit Sahney, chief executive of trading and consultancy firm Sun Group said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2012.
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