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Business Recorder

Published Date: Apr 4, 2013

Experts speak about Indo-Pak trade, investment prospects

Deliberating
on India-Pakistan trade and investment co-operation, the expert at a meeting
called for expanding co-operation from ‘goods’ to ‘services’ and building
capacity of public departments to facilitate the trade between two countries.
They were speaking at a multi-stakeholders meeting hosted by Sustainable
Development Policy Institute to discuss the progress on India-Pakistan trade
co-operation and opportunities after India allowed Pakistani investments in the
country.

Participants
of stakeholders meeting included Dr Mohsin Khan, former Director IMF, Dr Vaqar
Ahmed, Deputy Executive Director, SDPI, Dr Ijaz Nabi from International Growth
Centre, Dr Turab Hussain from LUMS, Dr Tariq Bucha, President, Pakistan Farmers
Associate along with the representatives from All Pakistan Textile Mills
Association (APTMA), Punjab Board of Investment, Pharma Health Pakistan and Sayyed
Engineers (pvt) Limited.

In
his deliberations, Dr Vaqar Ahmed presented the findings of SDPI studies that
explain informal trade between India and Pakistan, sector-specific non-tariff
barriers and potential of FDI in India by Pakistani investors. He informed that
despite non-tariff barriers, the value of Indian goods entering Pakistan
through informal channels was observed around USD 4.2 billion annually. He
said, this implies that consumers see a wide gain from trade with India which
is driving growth in informal channels.

The
studies also reveal that potential of Pakistani investment in India is
estimated around USD 2.5 billion annually where the key sectors of interest for
Pakistani investors include textile, food processing, cement and auto sector.
In services sector, potential areas for Pakistani businessmen include banking,
insurance and hotel/restaurant related activities.

During
discussion, participants were agreed on granting MFN status to India, However
they also called for guarding some sectors through duties where India is giving
abnormally high subsidies to its producers. They were also of the view that,
the co-operation must now go beyond ‘goods’ to ‘services’. "Both countries
should enter into advanced negotiations on trade in services where issue of
visa and double taxation needs to be addressed. Moreover, the trade in energy
must also be looked at where short term emphasis must be on power sector
co-operation, whereas the long-term collaboration must target gas sector,"
they added.

The participants also noted that capacity of government institutions dealing
with trade diplomacy needs to be improved. There is weak capacity at Ministry
of Commerce with regards to analysis of disaggregated comparative advantages.
Similarly, Ministry of Industries needs to improve on advanced analysis on
product standards; National Tariff Commission needs to improve on safeguards
and dispute resolution and Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs improvement in
co-ordination with above mentioned ministries and their efforts.