The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday vouched for more trade items to be allowed through the Wagah-Attari (Amritsar) land route. This would help the volume of India-Pakistan trade grow manifold.
"Currently, only 137 items are allowed through this trade route, which is the shortest and cheapest one between the two countries. If more are allowed, trade would grow manifold between the two countries, leading to an enhanced economic activity along the border," said Rajiv Bali, Chairman, Punjab Committee, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
"The influx of imports through this route will bring investments to the region, leading to an integrated development, on the lines of other freight corridors."
In order to promote bilateral trade between the two countries, he said, international trade show PHD-PITEX is being organised annually at Amritsar.
Asserting that governments on both sides would benefit from trade tariffs that could possibly be used to improvise infrastructure to facilitate greater formal trade, which currently is losing out to the illegal trade, Bali said, "Increased formal trade would lead to the development of warehousing infrastructure, cold chains facilities, increase in transportation demands besides culminating into a chain reaction effect that leads to generation of employment, especially in the services sector."
Moreover, it would lead to a stabilisation of prices due to adequate supply. Besides this, thousands of workers, entrepreneurs, and companies would reap the benefits of trade, he added.
Sharing that Indo-Pak trade through Wagah land route in Amritsar has witnessed significant increase in the recent past through the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at the Wagah border, Dalip Sharma, director, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, "As per an estimate, the opening up of the ICP at Wagah-Attari border shall increase the bilateral trade to $8 billion a year in the next two years from the current level of $2.6 billion," and added the estimated overall bilateral trade between India and Pakistan in 2004 stood around $380 million only.
Hitherto, a greater proportion of trade occurs through smuggling or third countries like Dubai, estimated at $250 million to $3 billion. One estimate pegs trade via the Mumbai-Dubai-Karachi route at 88 per cent of the total informal trade, and the remainder as cross-border informal trade through the Amritsar-Lahore and Rajasthan-Sind border routes.
Currently, the top five imported products from Pakistan are edible fruits and nuts, mineral fuels, raw cotton and denim, organic chemicals and plastics like unsaturated hydrocarbons, polyvinyl chloride etc. Products exported to Pakistan, include processed cotton, prepared animal fodder, edible vegetables, plastics and organic chemicals like polypropylene, xylene and polyethylene, among others.
PHD-PITEX, the international trade show being organised annually at Amritsar, witnesses major Pakistan participation, having a dedicated pavilion of the neighbouring country.