ISLAMABAD: There is resistance in the country hindering closer economic ties with India.

Minister of State for Commerce and Textile Industry Khurram Dastgir Khan said on Wednesday that ‘stakeholders’ in Pakistan are not in favour of liberalising trade regime with India.

However, reading from a written speech, he did not elaborate on the ‘stakeholders’.

Addressing the 30th anniversary lecture event organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and CUTS International, Mr Khan advocated closer trade links with the neighbouring country, asserting that even a 10 per cent share in Indian market will boost the local economy.

He emphasised the need for India to remove the non-tariff barriers, saying that trade will create inter-dependency that will ultimately lead to peace.

CUTS International Secretary General Pradeep S. Mehta said that bilateral trade between the two countries was currently far below from where it ideally should be. “There is ample evidence to suggest underutilisation of trade opportunities that exist between India and Pakistan,” he said.

He believed that facilitation could triple the current volume of bilateral trade to $12bn a year.

Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Raghavan briefly spoke about the importance of Pakistan-India relationship. He said effective collaboration between the two countries would be mutually beneficial.

He emphasised the need for longer trading hours, opening of more border crossing points and that all trading points should be opened for all trading items.

Pakistan-India CEOs’ Business Forum President Amin Hashwani highlighted the need to privatise the peace process. According to him, businesses did not have baggage and they could be effective problem solvers. He advised both governments to take businessmen on board for swift progress.

He floated the idea of a regional cricket team, one that comprises Indian and Pakistani players.

Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Shaban Khalid mentioned that the business community is excited about the future. Pakistan former Joint Chief Economist Aqdas Ali Kazmi spoke about the non-tariff barriers, urging India to provide level-playing field to Pakistan.

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