Connect with us

News

Pak-India trade much below full potential: WB

Press Trust of India

Published

on

IST


Islamabad, Dec 6: Trade between Pakistan and India is only valued at a little over $2 billion, but it could be as high as $37bn, says a World Bank report.

The current trade between the two countries is much below its full potential. It could only be harnessed if both countries agreed to tear down artificial barriers.

The bank also estimated Pakistan’s potential trade with South Asia at $39.7bn against the actual current trade of $5.1bn.

The report, “Glass Half Full: Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia”, released here on Wednesday unpacks four of the critical barriers to effective integration.

The four areas are tariff and para-tariff barriers to trade, complicated and non-transparent non-tariff measures, disproportionately high cost of trade, and trust deficit.

Talking to a group of journalists on key points of the report here at the World Bank office on Wednesday, lead economist and author of the document, Sanjay Kathuria, said it was his belief that trust promotes trade, and trade fosters trust, interdependency and constituencies for peace. In this context, he added, the opening of the Kartarpur corridor by governments of Pakistan and India would help minimise trust deficit.

He said such steps will boost trust between the two countries. For realising the trade potential between Pakistan and India, he suggested the two countries start with specific products facilitation in the first phase.

Kathuria said Pakistan had least air connectivity with South Asian countries, especially India. Pakistan has only six weekly flights each with India and Afghanistan, 10 each with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and only one with Nepal, but no flight with the Maldives and Bhutan.

Compared to this, India has 147 weekly flights with Sri Lanka, followed by 67 with Bangladesh, 32 with the Maldives, 71 with Nepal, 22 with Afghanistan and 23 with Bhutan.

The report recommends ending sensitive lists and para tariffs to enable real progress on the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (Safta) and calls for a multi-pronged effort to remove non-tariff barriers, focusing on information flows, procedures, and infrastructure.

Policy-makers may draw lessons from the India-Sri Lanka air service liberalisation experience. Connectivity is a key enabler for robust regional cooperation in South Asia.

Kathuria says reducing policy barriers, such as eliminating the restrictions on trade at the Wagah-Attari border, or aiming for seamless, electronic data interchange at border crossings, will be major steps towards reducing the very high costs of trade between Pakistan and India.

He argues that the costs of trade are much higher within South Asia compared to other regions. The average tariff in South Asia is more than double the world average. South Asian countries have greater trade barriers for imports from within the region than from the rest of the world.

He says these countries impose high para tariffs, which are extra fees or taxes on top of tariffs. More than one-third of the intraregional trade falls under sensitive lists, which are goods that are not offered concessional tariffs under Safta. In Pakistan, nearly 20pc of its imports from, and 39pc of its exports to, South Asia fall under sensitive lists.

World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Illango Patchamuthu said Pakistan is sitting on a huge trade potential that remains largely untapped. “A favorable trading regime that reduces the high costs and removes barriers can boost investment opportunities that are critically required for accelerating growth in the country,” he said.

World Bank’s Director Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment Caroline Freund said Pakistan’s frequent use of tariffs to curb imports or protect local firms increases the prices of hundreds of consumer goods, such as eggs, paper and bicycles.

They also raise the cost of production for firms, making it difficult for them to integrate in regional and global value chains, she said. “Pakistan needs to promote export promotion policies to ensure sustainable growth.”

On the issue of currency devaluation, she said undervalued currency is an anti-export measure. She suggests exchange rate should be determined by the real market trend.


Advertisement
Loading...
Comments

News

Pre-budget meeting: Kashmir Inc highlights ‘precarious’ economic condition of businesses

Published

on

Srinagar, Dec 9: Complaining non-implementation of the previous budgetary allocations, Kashmir Inc Sunday urged the Governor Satya Pal Malik to consider threads of previous announcements before compiling a fresh annual budget.

A delegation of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Inc) headed by its President Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad, participated in the pre-budget discussions with Advisor to Governor, Kewal Kumar Sharma.

As per the statement, KCCI apprised Advisor to Governor about the ‘precarious economic condition of the businesses.’

“Since the previous budget was presented on 11th of January, 2018, we have witnessed no less than four changes in the ministers and Advisors in-charge of the Finance Department. As a result, the policy to aid and enable businesses has not taken off as envisaged in the previous budget. Most of the announcements made have either not been acted upon or stand shelved.” the statement said.

“We suggest that, as a first step, the threads be picked up from the previous budget and announcements made therein regarding trade, commerce and industry be acted upon urgently. Stability and continuity in fiscal policies is essential for ensuring appropriate growth and development,” it added.

Kashmir Inc also urged the Governor led administration to finalise the financial package to assist traders in coping the loss post 2016 unrest.

“In view of the unrest of 2016 further impairing the capacity of businesses to repay their loans, the then Government had taken up the case for giving a suitable financial package with the Central Government and the Reserve Bank of India. We urge you to kindly take up the finalisation of a package for which Central Government and RBI intervention at the highest level may be required,” the statement said.

“The problems caused due to the delay in releasing of GST refunds to our industrial sector was also taken up,” it added.

KCCI in the meeting appealed the Governor for hiring a highly professional PR firm to counter negative publicity given by sections of media.

“We urged for upgradation of the tourism related infrastructure and engagement of a professional PR Firm for countering of negative publicity given by sections of the media. The need for inclusion of tour and travel operators for availing various marketing and promotional schemes at national and global levels was also discussed,” the statement said.

“The Budget allocation for tourism promotion was requested to be augmented. The diversion of funds from the Prime Ministers package meant for interest subvention for Hoteliers was also taken up. The delegation also strongly protested the non-implementation of budgetary commitments regarding the electricity tariff on industrial rates.”

For handicraft sector, the apex business body urged for need to allocate Rs 2.5 lakh to cover financial debts of artisans.

“The delegation sought marketing assistance for ensuring rotation of carpet stocks and other handicraft products. The negative impact of GST on our handicraft sector and the need for it’s removal was also highlighted.”

The Chamber as per the statement urged for allocation for Information Technology Tower on the lines of the Software Technology Park of India (STPI) in Kashmir.

It said the problems in power sector were duly appraised to the Advisor to the Governor.

“Several suggestions were made for encouraging private investment like execution of Power Purchase Agreements with the private sector for hydro projects upto 25mw. A special budgetary allocation for the infusion of Capital Equity by the State Government for projects under PMDP Schemes was discussed. The delegation also urged for finalisation of the Hydro Policy for JKSPDC for Small Hydro Independent Power Producers (IPP’s) for facilitation of local players,” the statement said.

Continue Reading

News

Int’l Human Rights Day: Civil society calls for proper documentation of rights’ violation in Kashmir

Firdous Hassan

Published

on

Srinagar, Dec 9: Ahead of the International Human Rights Day celebrated across the world on December 10, the civil society in Kashmir suggested proper documentation of the ‘massive human rights abuses in the region.’

Civil society members including renowned lawyers, businessmen, academicians and human rights defenders Sunday spoke at an event “Valley Drenched in Blood” in which they highlighted that “the human rights abuses in Kashmir post 2010 have been highest in last three decades.”

On the occasion, a report on the civilian killings in Kashmir in 2018 was released by the International Forum for Justice Human Rights JK.

As per the report, a total number of 103 civilian killings have been registered at State Human Rights commission (SHRC) office, which included 40 killings at encounter sites.

The report reveals that seven political activists, eight ladies and two mentally challenged persons have been killed this year.

Advocate Zafar Qureshi said that there was a need for proper documentation of the killings and its outreach to people worldwide.

“The situation currently is worse than 90s when armed struggle started in Kashmir. I visited to jails in Jammu in the year 1990 and saw the plight of the prisoners who were treated like animals,” he said.

Qureshi claimed that many human rights violation cases “go unreported” in Kashmir.

“Our voice should be heard as human right situation has deteriorated in the valley. Animals are secure in present days’ life than humans in Kashmir. Making reports is not enough as our voice should reach to the right quarters,” he said.

Civil Society activist, Prof Hameeda Nayeem claimed the “disdain response” to the United Nation’s report on human right abuses by India explained the “severity” of the situation in Kashmir.”

“Not just human rights, many other rights listed by United Nations stand violated in Kashmir. Governor is like viceroy of Kashmir who at the behest of RSS and RSS is running government here,” she said.

Hameeda said, “In Kashmir it is not only occupation but a colonial system prevails where economy, culture and social life is crushed apart from the killing on a mass scale.”

Advocate Abdul Majeed Zargar suggested the need for using social media to raise awareness in other nations about “human rights abuses in Kashmir.”

“It is surprising to see Kashmir’s diaspora silent on the issues of human rights violation. Why can’t they protest or either goes on hunger strike outside UN Office?” he said.

Advocate Zargar said the victims in Kashmir too are not taken care by the society.

Noted economist Shakeel Qalandar said the economy of the state has fallen “drastically” due to the conflict in the valley.

“In 1947 the import export ration for Kashmir used to be 1:3, which now has been reduced to 7:1. Our economy is being crushed and we are being made dependent society,” he said.

On the occasion, human rights activist Ahsan Untoo said they were attacked multiple times during the compilation of the report.

Continue Reading

News

Shailendra Kumar to take charge as JK CEO on Wed

Published

on

Srinagar, Dec 9: Shailendra Kumar will take over as the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday replacing the incumbent Shaleen Kabra, a day after the completion of the ongoing nine-phased panchayat polls in the state.

Kabra (IAS-1992), after relinquishing his charge, will be the principal secretary to the government, industries and commerce department and will also hold the additional charge of principal secretary to the government, housing and urban development department to look after the work of smart cities and proposed new Jammu and Srinagar metropolitan regional development authorities, officials said.

Amid ongoing panchayat polls, the Election Commission of India had Friday appointed Kumar, the 1995-batch IAS officer, as the CEO.

After a gap of seven years, the panchayat elections in the state began on November 17 and will culminate on December 11.

The panchayat elections followed four-phased Urban Local Bodies elections, held in the state after a gap of 13 years, in October.

“In pursuance of notification issued by election commission of India on December 7, Shalindra Kumar (IAS-1995) is appointed as chief electoral officer, Jammu and Kashmir. Kumar shall also be the principal secretary to the government, election department,” an order issued by General Administration department on Saturday said.

In another order, it said Kabra is recalled and posted as principal secretary to the government, industries and commerce department.

The officer shall assume the charge after relinquishing the charge of the CEO on December 12.

“He shall also hold the additional charge of principal secretary to the government, housing and urban development department to look after the work of smart cities and proposed new Jammu/Srinagar metropolitan regional development authorities, till further orders,” the order said.

The order said Reva Kumari (KAS), secretary to the government, Ladakh affairs department, is transferred and posted as secretary to the government, ARI and training department, relieving Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, IAS, commissioner secretary to the government, department of forest, ecology and environment of the additional charge of the post.

Rigzian Sampheal, IAS, secretary to the government, tourism department, shall hold the charge of the post of administrative secretary, Ladakh affairs department, in addition to his own duties, till further orders, the order said.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Subscribe to The Kashmir Monitor via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to The Kashmir Monitor and receive notifications of new stories by email.

Join 976,926 other subscribers

Advertisement