Liberalized trade with India will benefit millions: PEW

KARACHI: The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Monday said liberalized trade with India will benefit tens of millions of people on both sides of the divide while reducing food import bill which is above five billion dollars.

In a statement from Islamabad, Murtaza Mughal, President PEW, said that fears among Pakistani business and agricultural community including textile and pharma sector were unsupported.

Intra-regional trade will get a boost when both the governments lift trade barriers to bring a major change which will have a positive impact, said Dr Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that all the major political parties and key business associations were supporting trade liberalization with India but some sectors were voicing concerns to avoid competition with Indians. “Worries regarding Indian products flooding Pakistani markets are mostly baseless which amounts to underestimating skills and resilience of the business community,” he noted. Mughal said that liberalization would help exporters gain increased access to a much larger market while importers would save transport costs.

Apprehensions among some manufacturers have been addressed by the government anti-dumping laws and countervailing duties that can be imposed any time, he said.

Similarly, fears in the agricultural sector are due to lack of information as lower priced Indian agricultural products would benefit producers as well as masses, he said, adding that half of agricultural income come from the livestock sector which would face no competition.

Producers of major crops will not be affected, rather it will augment overall supply while vegetable imports and exports will help the two countries balance gap between supply and demand.

Both the nations should strive for improved infrastructure and customs facilities to promote bilateral trade.