Kolkata, June 10 : Stating that Indian-Pakistani tade has thrived in spite of their “often-strenuous” bilateral ties, Pakistani political economist S. Akbar Zaidi on Friday said the two countries can improve their trading relationship without the Most Favored Nation (MFN) status or other major breakthroughs in mutual relationships.
“I think, India and Pakistan can do away with the Most Favoured Nation status nomenclature and still achieve trade prosperity with each other.
“We do not really need major breakthroughs in the bilateral relationships to improve the trade. Basic things like better infrastructure, better road facility, and better protocols from both countries like increasing the trade transportation time at the border etc can help the trade automatically flourish,” he said.
The economist said it was a sign of hope for both nations that in spite of such hostility, lack of proper communication, tension at the borders and general misconceptions about each other, a substantial amount of trading has taken place between the two nations.
“The official trade between India and Pakistan is stuck at about $2.2 billion now and it is very much in India’s favour as India exports much more than it imports from Pakistan,” Zaidi said.
“There is also a part of unofficial trade between the two countries that happens through places like Dubai and Singapore which is worth another two billion dollars,” he noted, adding that the growth potential would be much more if the India-Paksitani relationship normalises.
“If the the trade opens up between the two countries, the trading potential would be at least $10-15 billion,” he said at a seminar on “Trade and economic possibilities and constraints between India and Pakistan” here.
Terming the business relationship between the two nations as “one of the oddest in the whole world”, Zaidi said there should be better communication and real man to man connectivity in order to utilise the full trading potential.
“Its interesting that the India-Pakistan trade is on for nearly 70 years and it was only stopped for nine years from 1965-1974. However, there are still major issues with visas, telecommunication or frequent flights between the two nations.
“This has to change to utilise the full trading potential,” he added at the programme organised by the Bengal Chamber and the Indian Institute of Management (Calcutta Alumni Association).