Islamabad: Pakistan today said that it will continue to trade with India despite tensions along the border casting a shadow on bilateral economic ties as no country can improve its relations without going into business.
“The vision of our government is that we must trade with our neighbours, including India, despite border tensions,” Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir said, addressing a consultative trade meeting yesterday.
“The government is committed to increase regional trade as part of promoting peace without compromising on national sovereignty,” The Dawn quoted the commerce minister as saying.
He said that Pakistan would have to trade in energy for import of electricity from India to overcome power crisis.
The minister said the current tension with India on the border is casting a shadow on economic ties between the two countries.
Minister for Privatisation Mohammad Zubair also supported the notion of opening of border for trade with India, saying “Pakistan should trade with India for better standard of living of its own people.”
“If we want to develop, we should contribute. It is not about India's domination on us, we absolutely want good relations with India,” the minister said at the meeting themed ‘Trade with Neighbours: Prospects and Challenges', organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). “No country in the world can improve its relations without going into business,” he said.
He also said foreigners love to invest in India, adding in 2008, IBM Pakistan had 400 people while India had 75,000.Dastagir said that Pakistan has given extraordinary concessions to neighbours for trade facilitation.
“We have been trying to finalise our projects with Iran as well,” the minister said, adding that due to international pressure, his government is facing difficulties according to modes of international payments. Pakistan is already purchasing electricity at Gwadar Port from Iran.
“The direction of this government is to encourage investment. A new change will be noticed if Gwadar Port is linked with the North,” he said.
Regarding talks on trade with China, the minister said that Pakistan already had a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China.
Pakistan, he said, was also planning to develop trading land ports at the three neighbouring junction points - Wagha, Torkham and Chaman - as gateways to regional trade.