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Indo-Pak trade through Wagah border picking up

December 23, 2009 14:39 IST

Notwithstanding the slowdown, the bilateral trade between India and Pakistan through the Wagah border registered almost two-fold rise during the April-October 2009 period as compared to the corresponding period last year. The data provided by Customs reveals that on an average 20-30 trucks cross Wagah every day.

According to the data, during the April-October 2009 period, the total value of exports to Pakistan through the border was Rs 299.14 crore (Rs 2.99 billion) while during the corresponding period last year it was Rs 105.71 crore (Rs 1.06 billion).

Thus exports to Pakistan witnessed more than two-fold increase in the first seven months of the current financial year. At present India is exporting soya extracts, green chillies and potatoes.

Earlier, it has exported tomato, raw cotton. However, the trade between the two countries registered marginal increase in terms of imports. India imported goods worth Rs 182.48 crore (Rs 1.82 billion) during the period April-October 2009, while the total value of imports during the corresponding period last year was Rs 179.28 crore (Rs 1.79 billion).

Overall the total value of exports during the financial year 2008-09 was Rs 435.34 crore (Rs 4.35 billion) while the value of imports was Rs 421.19 crore (Rs 4.21 billion).

Exporters are of the view that the Indo-Pak trade has got shot in the arm with the commencement of cross-border movement of trucks along the Attari border, Amritsar (Punjab).

It is worth noting that Indian truck laden with tomato consignment crossed Attari border (Indian side) into Pakistan to mark the beginning of truck movement into each others' territory on October 1, 2007.

This historic day was not only milestone in Indo-Pak bilateral relations over the past 60 years but also in the world history as the entire global focus was likely to be on the Indian subcontinent in the years to come.

Earlier, the goods were exported by porters by exchanging their loads on Radcliff line (border). As per the data, on an average 30 trucks per day cross the Wagah border in comparison to 10-15 truck per day earlier when the porters used to carry the export and import items.

Last year, trade between the two countries was affected due to the slowdown. Experts believe the trade with these two countries will further achieve a new milestone, once the state-of-the art Integrated Check Post (ICP) is in place.

To further give fillip to the trade, the government has proposed to set up ICP which will be spread over 120 acres besides four laning of the Attari road.

Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal also expressed confidence that with the opening of the Attari border for trade, there would be a spurt in the economic activities between the Indian and Pakistan Punjab, resulting in huge revenue and employment generation. He said there was a tremendous scope of increasing the trade from the few designated items which had been permitted for trade through trucks would be increased many fold including sport goods, light engineering hand tool, machine tools, hosiery and processed food products from Punjab and fine staples cotton would be imported from Pakistan which has assured demand in the Indian market.

Vijay C Roy in New Delhi
Source: