Jaitley Sees Indo-Pak Trade Rising As Peace Wind Blows

New Delhi, Feb 26 | Updated: Feb 27 2004, 05:30am hrs
Commerce minister Arun Jaitley has said reduced political tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad can lead to a multiple increase in bilateral trade.

Talking to the press after a meeting with a delegation from the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry here on Thursday, the commerce minister said improved relations would have a positive effect on investment climate in both the countries leading to increased trade.

Brushing aside bilateral trade figures for the first six months of the current fiscal, which shows a decline in the exports to Pak and an increase in imports, the minister said the figures meant nothing as most of the trade between the two countries either took place across the border or through Dubai. Trade between India and Pakistan has yet to take off and the current figures are minimalistic, he said.

Exports to Pakistan during the April-August period of this fiscal stood at Rs 274 crore against exports worth Rs 443.17 crore achieved during the comparable period of the previous fiscal. Imports from Pakistan, on the other hand, rose to Rs 128.10 crore from Rs 62.72 crore achieved during April-August 2002-03. The minister also said free trade under the South Asia free trade agreement would benefit both the countries.

The Pakistani delegation expressed interest in importing industrial machinery from here especially for manufacturing textiles and engineering goods. It suggested that both the countries team up to face the challenges of the quota-free regime in textiles to fight competition from China.