News / Asia

Optimism Ahead of India-Pakistan Trade Talks

FILE - Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
FILE - Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan’s new government under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said it believes efforts to improve trade links with India can eventually become a major “confidence-building” step toward normalizing bilateral relations. 
 
Pakistan and India have made considerable progress in the last three years on normalizing trade ties, including signing several agreements to facilitate cross-border business contacts to increase annual bilateral trade, which currently stands at around 2.6 billion dollars. 
 
However, military tensions and ensuing skirmishes along the disputed Kashmir border during most of the previous year stalled the trade liberalization process.
 
The tensions have now subsided following a long-awaited meeting in December between top military commanders of the two countries, where they agreed to ensure peace on borders and respect a mutual cease-fire in Kashmir.
 
All eyes are now set on Saturday’s meeting in New Delhi between Indian and Pakistani commerce ministers. The two sides are expected to refocus fresh proposals to speed up the trade liberalization process.
 
Ahead of his talks with the Indian counterpart Anand Sharma, Pakistani trade minister Khurrum Dastgir Khan called for both sides to prevent mutual suspicion and distrust from denying both nations’ people the opportunity to economically grow and prosper.
Federal Minister for Trade, Eng. Khurram Dastgir Khan, addressing the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Faisalabad, Jan. 9, 2014.Federal Minister for Trade, Eng. Khurram Dastgir Khan, addressing the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Faisalabad, Jan. 9, 2014.
x
Federal Minister for Trade, Eng. Khurram Dastgir Khan, addressing the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Faisalabad, Jan. 9, 2014.
Federal Minister for Trade, Eng. Khurram Dastgir Khan, addressing the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Faisalabad, Jan. 9, 2014.

“We should have a relationship which is not dependent upon news of the day. We should have a relationship as neighbors, which is uninterrupted and uninterruptable. So, yes, there will be tensions there will be certain issues on both sides. But should that completely derail a relationship and we seal off the two people from each other and not benefit from each other’s economies?" asked Khan.
 
Islamabad has long linked restoration of full trade ties with New Delhi to progress in a decade-old wide-ranging peace dialogue which is aimed at settling bilateral disputes, including the Kashmir conflict. 
 
India insists that wider cooperation in areas such as trade and the economy should not wait for political differences to be settled. 
 
Minister Khan said he hopes increased trade links could clear the way for progress on political issues dividing the two countries.
 
“It has been a disappointment, let me just say, [that] in all these years of composite dialogue since 2004 that no substantial progress has been made by both countries [on political issues]... Ultimately the political side has to come in parallel to [how rapidly we move on the trade side], otherwise trade will reach a certain level and then stop. Because to go beyond that level will require investment and investment will not happen unless investors [in both countries] have certain confidence that these are two countries not going to go to war,” said Khan.
 
The minister urged India to ease visa restrictions for businessmen to facilitate frequent travel and allow them to assess investment opportunities in each other’s countries. He criticized the strict visa regime as the “greatest non-tariff trade barrier."
 
Khan said that while some sectors in Pakistan, including agriculture, fear opening up trade with India could undermine their business, many others will hugely benefit from it.   
 
“We believe that opening up trade with India, however gradual it might eventually turn out to be, will be a huge boon for Pakistan in terms of industrial growth, in terms of job creation,” said Khan.
 
Since taking charge in June, Prime Minister Sharif’s government is said to have decided to “de-link” the issue of trade relations with India from the progress on the slow-moving peace dialogue.
 
While officials have yet to confirm it, the reported shift in Pakistan’s traditional stand on normalizing ties with India, some say, could be the outcome of enormous challenges facing the new government as it tries to revive national economy.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs