With the Lok Sabha elections just a couple of months away, the UPA government is in overdrive to push ahead in its talks with Pakistan in a bid to get the much-awaited non discriminatory market access (NDMA), something that will earn the ruling coalition brownie points while boosting trade between the two neighbours.
If India fails to get NDMA from Pakistan within next two months, it might take “much longer” for the whole process to fructify once a new government is in place, highly placed sources said.
“The groundwork has already been done but once the new government comes into power, it will naturally slow down the process as there would be a fresh agenda and other things on the plate,” a top government official told Hindustan Times.
“We are aware of the fact and we have our eyes on it,” Pakistan commerce secretary Qasim M Niaz said.
Both sides are aware of the urgency, and are working on the issue, sources said.
“It will be beneficial for both... easy access to people from both sides of the border is key to boost trade. The earlier it happens, the better it is,” said Jyotsna Suri, senior vice president, Ficci.
Bilateral trade, which has registered a 25% growth in the last few years, was estimated at $250 million (about Rs. 1,554 crore at current exchange rates) in 2003 but rose to $2.6 billion in 2013.
Suri, in her recent trip to Pakistan, met senior political leaders and business captains. “I got a feeling that there is an immense sense of interest among the people there and they want to do business with India,” she said.