Published Date: Dec 5, 2018
Strained relation between India and Pakistan constitute one of the major non-tariff barriers hurting the bilateral trade, said Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria. He was speaking at a session titled "Intraregional Trade in South Asia; Challenges and Opportunities," organised on the occasion of the 11th South Asia Economic Summit held under the auspices of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Tuesday.
Bisaria said that the Kartarpur Corridor is a peace corridor. It is not correct that India has deteriorated relations with Pakistan due to election. Both the countries need to take steps for better relations and increasing bilateral trade.
"Space is available for better bilateral trade relations if better policies are framed," said Bisaria, adding that India and Bhutan have established peaceful barter trade relations which can be promoted while including Pakistan as well.
Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of China, Zhao Lijian said that China and Pakistan enjoy good relations so they have cooperation in different sectors like education, tourism, trade and strategic relations. Furthermore, he discussed about the benefits of One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative and said it’s not the type of Singapore or South Korea model but it’s a model of industrialisation. The BRI has created many opportunities for Pakistan, said Chinese official, adding that Pakistan has become a big receiver of Chinese assistance.
Zhao said that a joint venture agreement has been signed on Rashakai Economic Zone. The ML-1 up-gradation from Peshawar to Karachi is a vital project for Pakistan’s economic development.
Project Director China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Planning Commission of Pakistan, Hassan Daud said that the world is changing day by day so the CPEC is a long-term project which will play a vital role in the region. Work on 22 projects worth around $ 28 billion under the CPEC framework is under way. Pakistan is engaged in talks with China for market access.
He maintained that it is a corridor of regional and trans-regional cooperation among the states and a good hope for the better future of coming generations of Pakistan. He said with its geo-strategic location, it has strategic importance for both the countries.
He further said that it will create more trade and investment opportunities for domestic investors through special economic zones (SEZs) while more foreign direct investment (FDI) will come in the country after the completion of this project.
He said that Gwadar will be the trans-shipment hub in near future, so Pakistan is an emerging economy, adding, "We welcome foreign investors in Pakistan."
Director Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment, World Bank, USA, Dr Caroline Freund highlighting the benefits and importance of Belt and Road Initiative said it’s a great initiative to connect the region. Discussing some of the projects related to this initiative like construction of road and transport, she said it will create many employment opportunities in future.
She also discussed the challenges faced by the country which created uncertainty in investments. She said that there are many policy gaps/barriers.
Team Leader, Prime Minister’s Performance Delivery Unit, Dr Shazia Ghani said that the CPEC is a flagship project among all the regional projects and has great impact on institutional development like Asian Development Bank and China Silk Road Fund.
Senior Advisor to Finance, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Nazir Kabiri stressed the need for close ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan through different regional organisations like SAARC. He said that Afghanistan has potential for trade and connectivity because it has clean environment for trade. There are many opportunities to launch clean energy projects in both the countries. He said that the CPEC is a good initiative and there is a need to initiate bilateral and trilateral agreements between Afghan and Pakistan like the CPEC. He said there is a need to start peace projects between the two countries.
Head of UNESCAP in India, Dr Nagesh Kumar highlighted the importance of SDGs in South Asia, saying the South Asian governments should focus more on key priorities, including poverty, hunger and environment as all are interlinked.
Executive Director Institute of Policy Studies, Sri Lanka, Dr Dushni Weekaron said the national development plan and annual budget spending need to be aligned with the SDGs.
Chairman of South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), Nepal, Dr Posh Raj Pandy said the challenges towards achieving the SDGs include localisation of issues, implementation and unavailability of data.
Speaking at a penal discussion titled ‘Building Renewable Energy Supply Chains in South Asia,’ PPP MNA Syed Naveed Qamar highlighted a few problems regarding energy generation and presented their solution as how "we can adopt a system having least dependencies." He emphasised on the importance of energy generation and recommended the private sector to step in to work on manageable solar systems.
Speaking at a session titled ‘Intra-regional Trade in South Asia: Challenges and Opportunities’ lead economist World Bank, the USA, Sanjay Kathuria emphasised on reducing import tariff so that intra-regional cooperation can be strengthened. He also emphasised on deploying track-II diplomacy to promote trade and trust between India and Pakistan.
Speaking at a concurrent session on ‘Renewable Energy Landscape of South Asia,’ Dr Shamsul Mulk, former WAPDA chairman, said that hydropower should be the centre for development keeping in view the landscape of Pakistan. In connection with the present scenario, he stressed the need for building more dams. He said that 46,000 dams were built in the last century; mainly in China. "We need dams to avoid floods, protect the lives of our people and for economic infrastructure. There is a big way forward for Pakistan in hydro energy if we construct more dams."