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more items for trade with India

Pakistan News/Business: After a gap of two years, Pakistan has decided to increase unilaterally the tradable products` import from India – a decision that would lead to resumption of formal trade expansion and facilitation of measures between the two countries.

food trade with india“We will send a list of eight products to the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet for approval. These items will be added to the list of tradable items from India,” Secretary of Commerce Zafar Mehmood said here on Thursday.

He, however, did not disclose names of the products to be imported from India. These items were finalised in consultation with all stakeholders, added the secretary.

Former President of Indo-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Senator Ilyas Bilour said it was a good move on the part of the government in considering import of more items from India.

Expansion of tradable list in the year 2008 in the eyes of experts was a major policy shift towards India.

According to the commerce ministry, the ministry has already taken approval from the Prime Minister for inclusion of these items in the list under the import policy order. “Most of the items are raw material or those products which are not locally produced”, a commerce ministry official added.

Official statistics, available with Dawn show that from 1979 to 1986, Pakistan added 42 items to the tradable list with India; 249 items in 1988-89; 328 items in 1989-2000; 14 items 1998-99; 6 items in 2000-01; 10 items 2001-02; 78 items 2002-03; 80 items in 2004-05 and 2005-06 three items–sugar, cement and oats and 438 products in the year 2008.

As a result, Pakistan`s tradable list with India had 591 items in 1997, but it has been enhanced to 1,938 items in 2008.

According to the official, Pakistan had actually diverted its global trade of over $5 billion towards India following inclusion of new importable items in the positive list in the past few years. However, the opportunity was not used effectively following the tension between the two countries in the wake of Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Another official said Pakistan had not benefited from the composite dialogue negotiations as exports were still facing numerous non-tariff barriers (NTBs) in the Indian market.

Statistics showed that importable items from India enhanced to less than $2 billion in a year, while Pakistan`s exports still hovering between $400 million and $600 million reflecting the trade was highly tilted in favour of India.

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