“If 33 per cent is imported from India instead of other countries, it will be cheaper and make our products competitive,” said Aamir. - File photo

 

KARACHI: Pakistan’s stakes in bilateral trade with India are declining for the last three years, and the balance is heavily in favour of India, reveals data released by the State Bank.

Pakistan and India on Wednesday agreed to work jointly to double their bilateral trade from the current $2.7 billion to around $6 billion per annum within three years. However, the trend of trade between the two countries shows that India has successfully increased exports, but Pakistan has not been able to match its performance.

Importers said registered trade with India does not show real volume of bilateral trade since Indian exporters use Singapore, Sri Lanka and Dubai ports to launch their products in Pakistan.

According to official data, Pakistan’s exports to India were 30 per cent of what India exported to Pakistan in 2009 which fell to 24 per cent in 2010 and further shrank to 20 per cent in 2011.

In terms of dollar, exports to India stood at $313 million, $260 million and $286 million in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively while Indian exports to Pakistan stood at $1.032 billion, $1.061 billion and $1.445 billion in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

“Indian exports to Pakistan are much more than the official data as exporters have been using regional ports, like Singapore and Sri Lankan to market their products in Pakistan,” said Saeed Shafique, President, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He, however, was hopeful that the outcome of recent talks with India would help remove non-tariff barriers which practically hinder exports to India. He said cement export to India is the most difficult job compared to any other country in the world.Some exporters were cautious over Indian support for Pakistan’s EU waiver package in WTO. They said trade relations with India are very sensitive, like political relations.

Business community while welcoming the positive trade talks with India, expressed reservations based on their past experiences as their exports were made subject to non-tariff barriers.

“We should not allow India to make Pakistan a dumping ground for their textile products which are cheaper than Pakistani products,” said Aamir Aziz, an exporter of finished textile products.

The Indian commerce minister said in New Delhi on Wednesday that the decisions (taken in the meeting with the Pakistani counterpart) would add width and depth to our economic engagement that would help us define our future roadmap as neighbours.

However, some importers argued that imports from India would reduce cost of import which is beneficial for both the countries.

Textile export industry uses about 33 per cent imported constituents in the finished products.

“If 33 per cent is imported from India instead of other countries, it will be cheaper and make our products competitive,” said Aamir.

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