By Firdous Hassan
Srinagar, Jun 05: Nearly a decade after trade started between India and Pakistan through the Line of Control (LoC), the state-based traders say it has failed to boost the state’s economy in absence of the infrastructure and basic facilities.
The traders claim the initiative, a part of the Confidence Building Measures between India and Pakistan, has remained stagnant in terms of the facilities, forcing scores of the businessmen to disassociate.
The Kashmir and Jammu-based business chambers have submitted a memorandum to the government in unison, seeking enhancement in the facilities and removal of the bottlenecks.
The business chambers have highlighted that the barter system in the trade coupled with the lack of banking facilities have left them to face financial risks and lack of clarity in the business.
“The existing system of barter trade comes with the challenges including lack of clarity on the value of goods, high financial risks and unnecessary harassment by the government agencies on the pretext of non-clarity of financial transactions,” the memorandum said.
“One of the best solutions would be to create branches of J&K Bank and PaK Bank on the opposite sides of the LoC, with fixation of rate between India and Pakistani currency on monthly basis,” it said.
The Jammu Chamber of Industries and Commerce (JCCI) and Kashmir Chamber of Industries and Commerce (KCCI) claimed that most of the traded items had no buyers on both the sides of the LoC.
“The list of items for trade was defined when the trade was initiated in 2008. However, many items had no buyers. While the Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) indicated that the list of goods be reviewed quarterly, the SOP is violated even in the 21 allotted items,” the memorandum said.
The traders in the memorandum have also highlighted the issue of restriction on travel and face -to-face meeting with counterparts.
“A significant majority of the traders had not a chance to travel across the LoC. The lack of interactions and conducting market research has limited the trade prospectus. Both the governments have to arrange meeting at LoC to settle accounts and exchange information,” the memorandum said.
The trade along the LoC has already shown a steep decline during 2017, with export and import falling by more than 50 and 31 per cent, respectively, compared to 2016.
As per the figures by state government, the state has exported 3,92,500.33 quintals of goods valuing Rs 304 crore during previous.
The figure is nearly half of the quantity exported in 2016, which the survey reveals was 7,39,034.47 quintals valuing Rs 527 crore.
Similarly, the import of goods too has shown decline during 2017, when 1,04,949.70 quintals worth Rs 252.90 crore were imported compared to 3,30,676.70 quintals valuing Rs858.17 crore in 2016.