Pakistan’s trade deficit with India at $894 mn

June 18th, 2008 - 3:18 pm ICT by IANS  

By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, June 18 (IANS) Pakistan’s trade imbalance with India was at $894 million in first 10 months of the current fiscal against previous year’s $866 million, according to data available with the trade and commerce ministry. Between July 2007 and April 2008, Pakistan imported - through official channels - goods worth $1.209 billion from India against $1.181 billion in the corresponding period of the previous year for an increase of $28,000.

Pakistan’s exports to India were at $227 million during July 2007-April 2008 against $315 million in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.

The unofficial Pakistan-India trade through third countries, largely in the Gulf, is estimated at $10 billion.

Last year, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) inked a pact to facilitate the sharing of information between the two agencies.

Trade bodies and businessmen in Pakistan believe that this can help in increasing confidence between the traders of the two countries.

“I think the pact was signed in good spirit and can help raise the confidence levels of the business community in both countries,” A.W Jan, a leading broker here told IANS.

The two agencies also need to interact more and learn from each other’s experiences and share this information with the investors, he added.

During last month’s meeting between the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India - Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Pranab Mukherjee, they had reiterated the importance of enhancing mutually beneficial economic and commercial cooperation and agreed to discuss further steps for facilitating trade and redressing the trade imbalance.

The decision was also reflected during their joint press conference when they emphasized on increasing trade between the two countries.

According to Kamran Ahmed Khan, who has been exporting leather to India for the last three years: “the business community’s trust depends on the trust of the governments… Our governments lack confidence (in each other) and this affects business transactions.

“I would say that the governments (of Pakistan and India) should come up with clear policy of bilateral trade,” he added.

“There are hundreds of items that Pakistan exports to other countries and which are also required by India… We can remove the trade imbalance to some extent if the trade regime is liberalized,” Khan told IANS.

He also noted that India had a “more severe” border dispute with China as compared to Pakistan but “political, territorial or diplomatic disputes” had not affected their bilateral trade.

“I think Pakistan and India should also adopt the same policy,” Khan maintained.

He believed the increase in trade would also increase the confidence levels between the two governments and help resolve their outstanding disputes.

Another businessman, Sanaullah Chaudhry, suggested the establishment of a joint India-Pakistan commission comprising government officials and private entrepreneurs to work toward increasing bilateral trade.

“The world has become a global village and we (India and Pakistan) are still talking about whether to allow cross-border trade through trucks.

“We need to move beyond such things,” Chaudhry added, while wondering why trucks from Lahore or other cities in Pakistan could not carry goods to cities like Delhi and Mumbai.

Presently, the goods have to be transhipped at specified points along the border in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab and then carried to their onward destinations.

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