Indo-Pak trade could reach $1b a year: Nath
NEW DELHI: India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said on Monday that New Delhi and Islamabad had agreed to formalise an economic cooperation agreement which could take bilateral trade to one billion dollars annually, provided that Pakistan grant India Most Favoured Nation status (MFN).
During a session of the Rajya Sabha (India’s upper house of parliament), Mr Nath said that Pakistan had given the nod to the agreement following his November meeting with President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad, where the two men had agreed that economic engagement was imperative to strengthening overall cooperation between the two countries.
Following the meeting, Pakistan’s Commerce and Industry Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan informed him that Islamabad was in favour of establishing a joint study group on bilateral economic cooperation, Mr Nath said.
He put unofficial trade figures between the two countries at $300-400 million. He said that Indian exports to Pakistan increased by 328 per cent during April-July of the current fiscal year, standing at $167.38 million against $39.10 million for 2003 over the same period.
According to available bilateral trade data for April-July 2004, Pakistani exports to India were estimated to total $18.98 million against $25.31 million during the same period last year. India’s Commerce Ministry officials said they were confident that imports from Pakistan would pick up during the remaining months of this fiscal year.
Two-way trade between India and Pakistan for April-July 2004 has trebled in four months, rising to $ 86.36 million against $64.41 million for April-July 2003. Total trade between India and Pakistan stood at $344.29 million for the full year of 2003-04, $251.01 million in 2002-03, $208.77 million in 2001-02 and $250.35 million in 2000-2001.
“If the present growth trend continues, the total trade between India and Pakistan may cross $500 million during the current financial year 2004-2005,” said a report released by India’s Commerce Ministry. India’s main exports to Pakistan include drugs, pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals, inorganic/organic/agro chemicals, rubber goods excluding footwear, dyes, coal tar chemicals, iron ore and metal manufactured goods.
Pakistan’s main exports to India include pulses, machinery excluding electrical and electronic, cotton yarn and fabrics, fruits and nuts excluding cashew nuts and raw wool. India’s fiscal year starts April 1, while Pakistan’s begins on July 1.