Enhanced trade and investment relations between India and Pakistan will play a critical role in improving overall bilateral relations between the two countries. This was the message conveyed by Rahul Khullar,chairman of Trai and Zafar Mahmood,member of Punjab Public Service Commission,Pakistan,at a lecture on Indo-Pak trade relations,organised by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER).
Khullar and Mahmood,former commerce secretaries of India and Pakistan,were instrumental in resuming the trade dialogue between the neighbours in 2011.
In his speech,Rahul Khullar outlined a six-pronged approach to improving trade and investment relations between India and Pakistan. These included the development of trade infrastructure,adoption of trade facilitation measures,tackling the non-tariff barrier issue,promote business-to-business engagement,settling investment and banking issues that hinder increase in trade volumes and identifying new trade options,including in the petroleum and power sectors.
He said Pakistan could save the equivalent of $12 to $14 a barrel by importing oil from refineries in Gujarat rather than from the Gulf or elsewhere.
Zafar Mahmood said India could gain access to the Middle East and European markets using port facilities at Gwadar in Pakistan. He also made a strong pitch for the opening of more crossing points between the two countries. He pointed out that in 1947 there were seven crossing points for trade between the two countries. Today,most trade is carried out through the Atari-Wagah route.