KARACHI: Pakistan’s agriculture exports to India have jumped by 133% in the last five years, much higher than the 68% growth in India’s agriculture exports to Pakistan in the same period showing that India can be a significant future market for Pakistani agriculture products, Indian experts say.
“This data reveals that the fears of Pakistan’s agriculture lobby against liberalised trade with India are quite baseless,” said Nisha Teneja, an economic expert heading an India-Pakistan trade project at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER).
“To ease the lobby’s fears in Pakistan, the government can easily put in place ‘an automatic import licensing system’. This will require all importers to seek a licence to import anything from India and this way the government can monitor the inflow of Indian agriculture products into Pakistan,” suggests Professor Taneja, who has conducted over 100 interviews of Pakistani businessmen on Pak-India trade.
Professor Taneja is part of the delegation comprising over two dozen Indian businessmen and academics that is on a visit to Pakistan to share their latest research on trade and commerce between India and Pakistan.
Experts believe that one of the key reasons for delay in Pakistan granting most favoured nation (MFN) status to India has been the fear from agricultural lobbies in Pakistan that increased imports of agricultural products due to trade normalisation with India might harm Pakistan’s domestic agricultural sector.
However, according to them, the trade liberalisation process is likely to have a balanced impact on the agriculture sector as there are tremendous trade complementarities between the two countries.
India and Pakistan are net exporters and net importers in the same product, thus will complement each other, said the delegation.
While it is true that India offers subsidies to its agriculture sector in terms of access to cheaper inputs, such as fertilisers and electricity, non-product specific subsidies in India are less than 10% of the value of agricultural produce, well within the limits prescribed by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2013.