Insulate economics from politics to boost Indo-Pak trade:Swamy

Insulate economics from politics to boost Indo-Pak trade:Swamy

Insulate economics from politics to boost Indo-Pak trade:Swamy

Pakistan needs to make up its mind between "South Asian DNA or West Asian family" to tap the potential for multi-fold growth in its trade with India, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said today.

Asking the two countries to insulate trade from politics, Swamy also said that "Indians have to change the mindset and that is to make its mind whether it is ally of the US or part of the SAARC family within Asian identity."

Addressing an Assocham convention on India-Pakistan trade here, Swamy said, "Pakistan should make (up) its mind whether you are of South Asian DNA or West Asian family...somewhere this mindset has to change ...South Asian mindset needs to be developed. That also will clear the way for many of the obstacles we have."

West Asia is known as a conflict-ridden region, while South Asia is generally referred to as a block of countries with strong trade relations.

He said that the SAARC framework is the best within which the India-Pakistan relation and trade can be developed and the most important thing was a common effort from both nations to change mindsets.

Swamy said there is an immense trade potential waiting to be tapped between India and Pakistan despite severe conflicts.

"It is possible to insulate trade from politics based on global experience. China-Taiwan and China-Japan have outstanding and even festering disputes but are still large trading partners," Swamy said.

He said the bi-lateral trade between both the nations stood at a mere USD 2.7 billion, mostly comprising India's exports to Pakistan at USD 2.2 billion and this could be enhanced significantly.

"You (Pakistan) import bicycles from South Korea. India can supply this on one-tenth of
the price but your politicians say if we allow India to export, our industry base cannot develop. We can have a relook whether negative list can brittle down," he said.
Swamy said the present trade quantum is an insignificant percentage of either country's global trade and the low level is not because the nations lack the comparative advantages.

The categories with the largest export potential from India to Pakistan are machinery, mechanical appliances, automobiles, software and electrical equipment, and chemical and textiles account for 54 per cent of total export potential, he added.

The categories with the largest import potential to India from Pakistan include textiles, precious metals, and base metals accounting for 45 per cent, he said.

Stressing the need to have a relook at the negative or sensitive list of both the countries, Swamy said a substantial proportion of India's export potential - 58 per cent - is in products that are on Pakistan's negative list for India or Pakistan's sensitive list applicable to India under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement.

"Similarly 32 per cent of India's import potential from Pakistan is in items on the sensitive list for Pakistan applicable under SAFTA," he said.

To promote trade, he said, there is a need of drawing a rigorous framework for trade independent of politics besides removal of non-trade barriers and developing safe freight transportation including truck agreement.

Among other measures to boost trade, he emphasised the need to develop courier service between both the nations besides more engagement between the regional chambers of commerce.

On visa/travel regime difficulties cited by Pakistan traders, he said, "I will speak to Minister of External Affairs...."

On exchange of academic material between both the nations, he said, "I will put forward a letter to HRD Minister and follow it with PM."

Earlier, Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan in India Mansoor A Khan listed the hardships faced in boosting trade between the nations and sought regular flight services between the nations.

Assocham is organising a proposed high level delegation visit to Pakistan in early April to three major cities of Pakistan.

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