India-Pakistan trade can cross $9 bn, says Assocham

August 19th, 2008 - 5:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 19 (IANS) Trade between India and Pakistan can reach $9 billion in the next few years despite political differences, industry lobby Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) said here Tuesday.”If the two countries bury political differences, the country can evolve strong bilateral ties which can grow from $2 billion to $9 billion,” said Assocham president Sajjan Jindal.

“Let us ignore what has been going on political front for the past couple of weeks between the two countries and concentrate on confidence building measures between the two countries,” he added.

The prospect for cooperation between India and Pakistan has accelerated in the fields of banking, freight, transport, tea and rice after the launch of the South-Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) in January 2006.

Bilateral trade has grown from $235.74 million in 2001 to over $1 billion in 2006-07.

It said exports from India to Pakistan grew at the rate of 60 percent and imports at 64 percent during 2002-07, though the balance of trade is still in favour of India.

Assocham has advocated promoting people-to-people contact, solving trade issues to check illegal trade through land borders, and establishing web portals so that traders from sides will be informed about policy environment in both the countries.

With the restoration of democracy in Pakistan, Delhi can expect cooperation from Islamabad in securing infrastructure-related projects such as railways, power and telecommunications, Assocham said.

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