Indian businessmen and professionals said on Monday that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s decisive victory in the election has rekindled hopes of improved bilateral trade and the granting of a Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India.
“We think bilateral trade between India and Pakistan is growing and will grow further in coming years,” Senior Manager-Exports, Raymonds, Durgesh Buxy, told The Express Tribune by telephone from Mumbai.
Raymonds, a renowned apparel brand of India, is going to launch its first store in Karachi by the end of this month.
“We are hopeful that we will get good response from Pakistani customers because we are a renowned name in world’s apparel market,” he said. We simply do business and do not want politics to affect trade relations between neighbouring countries, he added.
The outgoing Pakistan Peoples Party government had promised to grant an MFN status to India by December 2012, but failed to do so. Businessmen are hopeful that India will be granted this status during Nawaz’s tenure.
“It is a very good development, and obviously India is looking forward to move on,” President-Export, Siyaram’s, NP Singh told The Express Tribune by phone. “I think the present governments of both countries want to move forward as people of both neighbouring countries want good relations.”
“We are hopeful that both countries will move forward, but at the same time we are cautious too.” Managing Director of Suneja Poly Yarns Mukesh Suneja said.
Suneja, who has a factory in the Indian state of Gujarat, visited Pakistan last year with a big delegation in the hope of marketing his products in the country. “We have to see what is coming next because every time we take one-step forward, we move two steps backward. This has certainly made us cautious in trade and investment in Pakistan.”
Moreover, leading trade and commerce associations of India and Pakistan say that MFN is the biggest hurdle in trade relations between South Asia’s two largest economies.
After joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1996, India granted MFN status to Pakistan but Pakistan did not reciprocate the gesture, saying that the two countries should first resolve border issues before moving on trade and commerce. But now Pakistan’s position has changed and it is now open to trade talks.
The current bilateral trade between India and Pakistan is valued at $2.5 billion. However, leading trade bodies of both countries say that bilateral trade can be increased to $15 billion in next five years because of extremely low current trade volumes. The two neighbours have never traded smoothly since the start of 1965 war.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2013.
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there is no doubt both countries could gain from opening up of trade, but there must be level playing field. Currently India has provided a lot of subsidies to their farmers and have more tariff lines than Pakistan.
Common ground should be found and reached between two countries,protectionism by Pakistan has to be reduced and contentious issues have to be put on the back burner.