While Pakistan seems in no mood to grant the most favoured nation (MFN) status to India, the bicycle industry here pins hopes on the opening of bilateral trade for a turnaround in its fortunes.
So far, tyres and tubes are the only items that Pakistan accepts from this Indian industry here that does business worth `6,000 and manufacturers nearly 1.5-crore bicycles a year. Industry experts opine that at least 1.5-lakh bicycles could be exported to Pakistan every month if barriers go. At present, bicycle and parts are routed to Pakistan from Dubai, which increases product cost to a great extent.
Even the cost of a bicycle tyre, an item on Pakistan's positive list for direct trade with India, shoots up from `250 to `600 by the time it reaches across border. An ordinary Indian bicycle worth `2,700 become more than double at `6,000 when routed through Dubai.
The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry plans to send a delegation to Pakistan in June to talk the opening of trade for bicycle industry. Chamber's Ludhiana-zone chairman Gurmeet Kular said here because of Pakistan's putting Indian bicycles on the negative list, the Ludhiana industry was losing a market that could change its fortunes. "I plan to visit Pakistan in June and meet different trade organizations to build pressure on the Pakistani government for opening trade for bicycles," he said.
From Dubai, the Indian bicycles first reach the Karachi port. United Cycle Parts and Manufacturer Association president (UCPMA) Charanjit Singh Vishwkarma said that China had woken up to the fact and started selling second-hand bicycles to Pakistan. "These are cheap and in a better condition," said Vishwkarma.
He said the makers had requested the central government many times to ask Pakistan to remove trade restrictions. Industry experts opine that Pakistan was unlikely to allow bicycle import from India. It is on the 900 Indian items that Pakistan has put on the negative list, which India has only 10 to 12 items from Pakistan on the negative list.
Federation of Associations of Small Industries of India (FASII) national president and National Productivity Council vice-chairman Badish Jindal also said the chances of Pakistan's giving the MFN status to India were bleak.
"The priority of Pakistan is not trade, yet India is allowing Pakistani traders to hold exhibitions on this side. We should also take some hard steps," said Jindal. "The negative list should be on a par," he added.