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Indian envoy says trade with Pakistan can rise to $30bn

March 31, 2018

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INDIAN High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria addresses the audience at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.—DawnNews
INDIAN High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria addresses the audience at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.—DawnNews

LAHORE: Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria on Friday said that India and Pakistan must make the future different from the past since both countries could take the bilateral trade up to $30 billion if they improved relations.

“Removal of non-tariff barriers, liberalisation of visa and normalisation of mutual relations can bring the trade between the two countries to the height of $30bn,” the Indian diplomat said while speaking to office-bearers of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

Mr Bisaria urged both countries to avoid carrying the burden of history, saying that mutual relations should be built on the basis of trade and economy and must be away from violence and war. “We should not talk about negative and positive lists; rather we should work on the windows of opportunities,” he said.

Both countries urged to avoid carrying the burden of history

Two-thirds of the population of India were below the age of 35 while 65pc of Pakistan’s total population was under the age of 35, he said, adding that both countries had a lot of potential to cater to each other.

The Indian diplomat said that there was no better way of improving relations than mutually beneficial economic ties. The two countries, he said, were required to take more steps to remove non-tariff barriers which were a major impediment to bilateral trade relations. At present, over $5bn trade was being done through a third country, Mr Bisaria pointed out.

“Chambers of commerce and industry in both countries are the most important lobby, as they cannot only play an instrumental role in strengthening mutual trade and economic ties but also influence the policy-makers,” the diplomat maintained.

Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Malik Tahir Javaid said that presently an unfavourable situation had developed both at the political and diplomatic fronts.

“We have been witnessing these cycles time and again that first there is a trust deficit and some joint efforts are made for trust-building then a bad incident happens and we end up yet again at trust deficit,” he said.

The LCCI chief said one such incident must not halt the process of building relations. Both India and Pakistan should give peace another chance to prevail in the region for our youth and coming generations.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2018