Welcoming the move of Pakistan to grant the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India, the Indian traders are overjoyed and feel that this would further strengthen trade relations between two nations and Attari road route can be a big gateway.
The Attari-Wagah land border has over the years seen trade movement between the two nations. And the trade that started off slowly few years has taken a gigantic leap and now the border currently sees long queues of trucks carrying goods.
The Indian export apart from fresh vegetables comprises of huge quantity of soyabean. In the past it has been seen that vegetables including ginger, tomatoes, green chillies, onions also have crossed over to Pakistan. And on demand even meat has been exported.
Whereas, India is currently receiving fresh fruits, dry fruit, dry date, gypsum, rock salt and some other items.
The figures indicate that every year both exports and imports between the two nations is growing rapidly.
And with the Pakistan giving MFN status to India, the trade through this land route is expected to go further high.
The India traders believed that with this MFN status coming in, Pakistan that imported products such as textiles, machinery, hosiery items some fruits from China or Dubai will now import from India.
It is also stressed that now Pakistan must allow Indian trucks to travel up to Central Asia so that the Attari turns into a major gateway to Central Asian nations.
With the duties expected to come down and infrastructure already gearing up, this land border of Punjab is likely to see lot of activity, feel the traders.
Already the border is witnessing Integrated Check posts coming up on the both the sides of the border, the MFN will lead to full use of this infrastructure.
The traders also stressed that MFN will also lead to relaxation of visa policy and with mutual business visits; both Lahore and Amritsar can flourish further.
Not only land route, the India and Pakistan also exchange goods through the rail route. The goods trains ply between the both nations and a variety of goods are exchanged.
India is a major imported of Pakistani cement, which comes through the train.
Trade going up through Land border:
Truck movement between two nations:
Year 2009-2010: Import: 1563 trucks; Exports: 16950 trucks.
Year 2010-2011: Import: 3598 trucks; Exports: 32252 trucks.
Year 2011-12 (till October): Import: 9142 trucks; Exports: 16651 trucks
Note: Each truck contains 10-12 tonnes of goods
ICP to be a big plus
The upcoming Integrated Check post on 121 acres will add value to trade. Apart from various facilities, the infrastructure will have scanners, waiting rooms, parking area for trucks.
Traders believe that once this is operational and MFN coming in, this ICP can turn out to be a big facility for Indian exports and imports.
Currently, gates are opened for about 6 hours for trade but after ICP, timing will increase by 4 hours and result in more trade flow everyday.
Hindustan Times talked to various traders and others on issue:
Rajesh Setia, Exporter: We have waited for this since long. Attari-Wagah has a great potential and after MFN this can be gateway to all countries on the West. Imports to Pakistan will also take-off.
Om Parkash, Exporter: I have had talks with my business counterparts across the border and they are also overjoyed. Duties will come down and trade will change fortunes of both nations.
Amrit Lal Jain (President Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal): We welcome the move of Pakistan and it will boost bilateral trade and boost economies. India-Pak trade which stood at US Dollar 2.6 billion will increase to double soon. This step can also open avenues for business community in Amritsar up to Central Asia.
Suneet Kochchar (CII): CII welcomes this and trade would be the key to restore peace in the region Now Pakistan must act on giving transit route to India for catering central Asia visa reforms for businessmen very much required to get the results of MFN status.
Gunbir Singh (member CII): This development will open avenues for further trade between two countries and benefit India and especially Punjab. The announcement is win-win for both countries.