The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has stated that India and Pakistan can achieve bilateral trade of $10 billion by 2015, if barriers to trade and investment are dismantled. This would be substantially higher than the level of $2.7 billion realised in 2010-11.
The industry chamber statement comes close on the heels of the visit of Anand Sharma, minister of commerce, industry and textiles, to Pakistan. Sharma is leading an industry delegation to Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad for building economic interaction.
Industrialists accompanying Sharma includes N Goel (Jet Airways), Rajan Mittal (Bharti Enterprises), Harsh Pati Singhania (JK group), Omkar Singh (Apollo Tyres), Sunil Kant Munjal (Hero Corporate Services), Naresh Trehan (Medanta), Arun Nanda (Mahindra Holidays & Resorts) among others.
“The trade potential between our two countries is very high and based on strong fundamental complementarities,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, CII. “One step of opening up of Wagah border for all tradeable items would double bilateral trade.”
Noting that the large volume of informal trade indicates demand for each other’s products, CII made a number of recommendations to catalyse formal trade. In particular, it has suggested that Punjab provinces of both sides work together to leverage across-the-border advantages.
As per a CII paper, two industrial clusters in Punjab enjoy inherent complementarities in sectors such as textiles, small scale machinery, chemicals and engineering goods.
In recent years, Mohali has developed into an IT hub, while competent educational institutions such as Lahore University of Management Science have come up on the Pakistan side.
The chamber recommends that policymakers and businesses of both sides identify security considerations and suggest alternative mechanisms that would not jeopardize economic goals.