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— Photo by AP

ISLAMABAD: The Indian High Commission said on Tuesday that Pakistan’s exports to India had grown faster than imports  despite missing of a deadline of Dec 31 for complete trade liberalisation regime between the two countries.

A recent tension between Pakistan and India over Line of Control led to suspension of revised visa regime along with cross-border bus service in Kashmir. After signs of easing of tension, bus service between Poonch and Rawalakot was resumed on Monday.

For the commerce ministry in Pakistan, the delay in complete liberalisation was because of procedural hiccups along with political compulsion, but for the skeptics in Pakistan, the LoC tension provides an opportunity to propagate for reversal of all those measures taken so far for complete liberalisation of trade regime with India.

An official, who did not want to be named, said it was India which provides a platform to the people who were opposing trade liberalisation between the two countries.

“India unilaterally decided to suspend the implementation of the revised visa regime”, the official said, adding it was not a wise decision.

Pakistan was so concerned about the delay in trade liberalisation that Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Amin Fahim spoke to his Indian counterpart on telephone for taking him on board over an issue which is holding up full trade liberalisation with India.

On Tuesday, Indian High Commission issued a statement in Islamabad to dispel the impression that the liberalisation has only benefited Indian exporters which was mostly believed.

The analysis was carried out on the basis of latest figures of the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MoCI), Government of India.

The statement claimed Pakistan’s exports to India between April-December 2012 show a growth of 66 per cent over the same period in 2011 while India’s exports to Pakistan grew by 16 per cent in April-December 2012.

Pakistan’s exports to India in the nine months of 2012 stood at $460 million, which is much more than $277 million during April-December 2011 and is also more than the value of Pakistan’s exports to India ($401 million) in the entire previous year (April 2011-March 2012).

The growth of $183 million in Pakistan’s exports to India during April-December 2012 is more than the increase of about $170 million in its imports from India in the same period.

The devaluation of the Pakistan rupee was one of the major factors for growth in exports to India.

The MoCI figures also indicate that the share of Pakistan’s exports in bilateral trade with India have almost doubled since 2009-10.

According to the Indian High Commission, the impressive increase in Pakistan’s exports during April-December 2012 reflects the benefits of the steps taken to enhance bilateral trade, and improvement of trade environment, aided by SAFTA tariff reductions.

In order to address concerns of Pakistan’s exporters, the two countries had also signed three agreements in 2012 in areas of customs cooperation, mutual recognition of standards and redressal of trade grievances.

A number of trade organisations in both the countries have promoted, especially in 2012, greater exchange of trade and business delegations between India and Pakistan. Liberalised visa provisions pertaining to business persons will further facilitate such exchanges.

Meanwhile, experts at a roundtable discussion on Tuesday urged increased bilateral trade between India and Pakistan and said that trade could be a catalyst for peace by enhancing bilateral relations, increasing economic growth and reducing poverty in the region.

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