ISLAMABAD: Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan grew 21% to $2.4 billion last year, as Islamabad reaped the benefits of trade normalisation more than the gains made by New Delhi, says the Indian High Commission.
According to latest figures of the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, Ministry of Commerce and Industry India, which were released here on Monday, the volume of bilateral trade recorded a net increase of $410 million from April last year to March this year.
Pakistan’s exports to India grew 28% while Indian exports to Pakistan increased 19%.
Bilateral trade has increased to $2.4 billion, which may soar to $6 billion in the next two years if both countries decide to treat each other equally. Currently, most of the trade between India and Pakistan takes place via Dubai and its volume is estimated at over $4 billion.
The figures come hard on the heels of interests shown by the political leadership of both sides to improve bilateral ties following sudden heightening of tensions due to killing of each other’s prisoners. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has invited Mian Nawaz Sharif to visit India after taking oath of office as prime minister.
Sharif too is keen to see the Indian premier at his oath-taking ceremony, expected to take place soon.
According to an official statement released by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, Pakistan’s exports to India in the last Indian financial year (April 2012-March 2013) grew 28% and reached $513 million. Metalliferous ores and metal scrap, organic chemicals, raw cotton and leather were among the commodities that contributed significantly to the increase.
The High Commission termed the 28% increase in Pakistan’s exports “impressive” when viewed in the context of negligible increase (0.3%) in India’s overall imports.
India’s exports to Pakistan in the same period increased $300 million, a growth of 19%. Total Indian exports to Pakistan stood at $1.84 billion, putting the trade balance in favour of New Delhi.
“The growth in bilateral trade, especially in Pakistan’s exports to India, reflects the positive effect of a number of steps taken towards fully normalised trade relations,” the High Commission stated.
It added three bilateral agreements signed in 2012 in the areas of customs cooperation, mutual recognition of standards and addressing trade grievances were intended to further improve trade environment.
In February last year while taking a giant leap forward, Pakistan abolished the positive list containing only 1,956 tradable items and enforced a negative list of 1,209 untradable items until both sides agree on absolute trade normalisation. Pakistan was expected to abolish the negative list by December last year, but the deadline was missed due to Indian reluctance to address Islamabad’s concerns about non-tariff barriers and resistance by Pakistan’s automobile and pharmaceutical sectors.
Analysts hope that both sides will start trade negotiations from where these were left off once Sharif’s party takes the reins of the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2013.
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