Trade can bring India, Pakistan closer: Indian diplomat

Mansoor Ahmad
Saturday, Mar 18, 2023

LAHORE: Indian Deputy High Commissioner Dr M Suresh Kumar said on Friday “transit trade is extremely important for India as Central Asia is a big market and India needs access to it. Also, Central Asia too needs access to India”.

Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he said India had never stopped trade between the two countries, but Pakistan. The two countries are still doing trade, but the volume is far below the potential. He said India is the most important and largest country, and it is going to become the largest economy in the world very soon.

He said India’s services sector had grown enormously. “Now we are focusing on manufacturing, like automobile and electronics manufacturing,” he said and added that his country always wanted better relations with Pakistan “because we cannot change geography”.

He said “it would be better to see how we could change our problems and situations. We want to move towards normal relations”. He said in the last few years, due to corona pandemic, the number of visas decreased, but now 30,000 visas are being issued every year which is a huge number. Medical visas are also being issued by India, he added.

He said a lot of sports activities are happening between the two countries. “We have not denied any visa for sports yet”, he claimed and added that earlier, diplomacy used to focus on political work, now the times are gone. “Gone are the days when embassies compiled political reports. Now diplomacy is done for tourism, trade and technology, because money speaks its own language,” the Indian diplomat said.

He said that currently, India had a trade of $120 billion with China, in which the balance of trade is in favour of China. “Imports are not always wrong, but they also have advantages.” He said that technology is very important. Intellectual property has become more important than physical property. By sitting in distant countries and manufacturing in other countries, Europe is making money due to intellectual property rights, he added.

He said that startups are growing rapidly in India right now. Currently, India ranks third in the list of eco-startup countries. “Traditionally we were in the service sector. If we can do all these things, then Pakistan can also do it. The importance of geo-economics cannot be denied. GT Road runs from India to Kabul. Connectivity is very important. We desperately need to work on it,” he suggested.

He said “if we talk about the auto sector, the world’s biggest auto companies are working in India. We have imposed heavy taxes on imported vehicles to benefit the local industry.

“More business visas should be issued. As long as people don’t go to each other’s countries, there will be no increase in business,” Suresh Kumar said.

LCCI President Kashif Anwar said it is generally considered that improving economic relations between India and Pakistan is a complex issue that requires addressing a range of political, economic, and social factors. “We believe that the foremost step that could be taken to improve economic relations between India and Pakistan is normalisation of trade relations. This would bring substantial economic benefits evenly to both the countries,” he added.