India, Pakistan must remove barriers to boost trade: Ficci


New Delhi : India and Pakistan must axe non-tariff barriers to boost bilateral trade to $10 billion in the next three years, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said Friday.

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Ahead of a business delegation visit to Pakistan, Ficci president R.V. Kanoria said: “Bilateral trade, now at about $3 billion, can be raised to $10 billion if trade through third countries like Dubai, Singapore and Central Asia is channelised into direct trade between the two countries.”

Third country or circular trade between India and Pakistan is currently reckoned at $10 billion, according to a Ficci report released Friday.

A high-level business delegation led by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma is scheduled to visit Pakistan next week.

The delegation will visit Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad for close interaction with Pakistani CEOs and officials in what is described as a “landmark initiative” to remove irritants in two-way trade.

“At present, India Pakistan trade amounts to less than 1 percent of their respective global trade. The volumes of third country trade and informal trade indicate the tremendous potential for bilateral trade,” said Kanoria, who will head the delegation of Ficci member companies.

Trade between India and Pakistan was recorded at $2.7 billion in 2010-11. Trade balance is heavily in favour of India, with its exports pegged at $2.3 billion and imports from Pakistan at $332 million.

Major export items from India are sugar, cotton, man-made filaments and chemicals. Its leading imports from Pakistan include edible fruit, mineral fuels and organic chemicals.

Trade between India and Pakistan is limited to 1,938 items. These products alone are importable from India. The rest is banned.

An analysis of this list reveals that a large number are confined to minerals, chemicals and other raw materials. Most manufactured finished goods, bulk drugs and pharmaceutical, textile and food products are banned.