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India, Pakistan look to trade to reinforce peace

By Haris Afzal on Friday, September 30, 2011 with 0 comments

India, Pakistan look to trade to reinforce peace
NEW DELHI: Indian and Pakistani business leaders said Thursday there were big opportunities to boost direct trade between them after the rival nations

agreed to work harder at opening up their markets.

While formal trade between the two most populous and largest economies in South Asia is a paltry $2.7 billion annually, unregulated trade, much of it

routed through third countries, is estimated at $10 billion.

This informal commerce shows "the tremendous potential for bilateral trade," said Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry secretary

general Rajiv Kumar.

Cross-border commerce currently amounts to less than one percent of each country's global activity, but the two sides harbour hopes of increased

trade in areas such as engineering and textiles.

"There is a large market to be opened up," said Rajan Bharti Mittal, managing director of India's Bharti Enterprises, parent of the country's largest mobile

phone operator.

The comments came as India's commerce minister Anand Sharma announced he would lead a trade delegation to Islamabad next February at the

invitation of his Pakistani counterpart, Makhdoom Amin Fahim.

The two agreed in New Delhi late Wednesday to more than double trade within three years to $6 billion, set up a second trade border check post and

make it easier for Indians and Pakistanis to get business visas.

Both governments "are committed to normalisation of trade relations," said Fahim, whose five-day visit at the head of a large business delegation is the

first by a commerce minister to India in 35 years.

"We're already trading with each other via third nations. This shows there is a need in both countries for each other's products," Bashir Hussain, chief

executive of the Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company, said.

Category: Business News

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