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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid