While experts have long held that India developing stronger economic ties with Pakistan could help overall bilateral relations, the World Bank and UNESCAP data analysed in the blog post point out that the costs of trade between the two countries is twice that of the cost of trade between the US and China. The rigid bureaucratic walls put up for trade between the two countries is discouraging. For example, only 137 items of export can cross the border at Wagah-Attari, while the rest have to take the more expensive sea or air routes. In the SAFTA region, the number of documents required for clearing both exports and imports are the highest when compared to regional treaties under
NAFTA, Mercsour, and the ASEAN. Not only do SAFTA countries, including India, have very restrictive land transport policies for cross-border tradetransloading, or reloading of goods from the exporting countrys trucks on to importing country ones at the border, and discordant border permit protocols are all too commonnone have moved on transit agreements that could remedy these either. Given how landlocked parts of the subcontinentIndias north-east, Afghanistan and north-western Pakistanwould benefit greatly from cross-border trade, India needs to correct this distortion.