ISLAMABAD: Ahmed Hassan Moughal, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry has lauded the keen interest of Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan for developing peace with India in order to promote bilateral trade that he showed while addressing the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib. He termed it a healthy gesture by the Pakistani leadership that should be reciprocated with equal determination and resolve from the other side of that border in order to start a new era of growing trade between the two immediate neighbors.
Ahmed Hassan Moughal said that according to a latest report of World Bank, without trade barriers, Pak-India bilateral trade has the potential to increase up to $37 billion per annum while the existing volume of two-way trade was mrely $2 billion. It showed that the people of the two countries have been kept deprived of the fruits of growing trade that could uplift their living standard and bring prosperity in their lives.
He said the countries around the world harnessed the potential of intra-regional trade to prosper together with the neighbors. He said that intra-regional trade accounted for 50 percent of total trade in East Asia and the Pacific and 22 percent in Sub-Sarahan Africa. However, due to tense relations between Pakistan and India, the intra-regional trade in South Asia was only 5 percent of its total trade. He said this was not a good trend as it was depriving the people of South Asian region from the great prospects of progress and prosperity. He stressed that the leadership of both countries should demonstrate strong determination to move forward and focus on promoting bilateral and regional trade in order to usher in an era of economic prosperity for the whole region.
Rafat Farid Senior Vice President and Iftikhar Anwar Sethi Vice President ICCI said that South Asian countries had signed a free trade agreement (SAFTA) in 2006 to remove trade barriers in the region. However, as per latest report of World Bank, average tariff barriers in South Asia in 2016 were 13.6 percent as compared to world average of 6.3 percent. It showed that the South Asia was still way behind of realizing its actual regional trade potential due to which the regional countries were plagued with the problems of rising poverty and unemployment. They stressed that Pakistan and India should take solid measures for normalizing relations and create a conducive environment for bilateral and regional trade that would pave way for rapid economic growth in the region and bring prosperity to the people of Sub-Continent and the whole South Asian Region.