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Traders welcome Pak’s decision to import cotton, sugar from India


Indian traders have welcomed the Pakistan government’s decision to allow import of cotton and sugar from India, saying it will pave the way for early reopening of bilateral trade between the two countries via the Attari-Wagah transit route. The traders have also urged the government of India to scrap the 200 per cent duty on items being imported from Pakistan.

The neighboring country’s finance minister Hammad Azhar Islamabad on Wednesday said that Pakistan will import sugar and cotton from India.

Pakistan had, unilaterally, stopped all trade ties with India in August 2019 when the Centre abrogated Article 370 that gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Before this, India had increased the customs duty on the goods being imported from Pakistan from 5 per cent to 200 per cent in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed. Since August 2019, only imports from Afghanistan have been allowed by Pakistan through the land border.

Terming the decision as ‘better late than never’, president of Federation of Karyana and Dry Fruit Association Anil Mehra said, “All Indian traders welcome the decision. With the opening of trade via the Attari-Wagah border, Pakistan will benefit more than India. Due to the rapidly increasing inflation in the neighboring country, the people there have been facing a tough time. India had not severed any trade ties with Pakistan, but it was their unilateral decision.”

He said, “Pakistan had been exporting cement to India and due to the closure of the trade, many cement industries have closed there. Pakistan should also take early decision on allowing the import of vegetables from India. In Pakistan, tomatoes are sold for 150- 200 per kilo.”

Former All-India Cement Importer Association president MPS Chatha said, “We appreciate that the Pakistan government finally considered it important to open trade with India. The Indian government should also take the initiative to strengthen the trade ties.” “India had mostly been importing cement, salt, and dry dates from Pakistan before August 2019. At that time, the price of cement was 250 per bag, which is nearly 450 now. Similarly, Pakistani salt was being sold for 6 to 7 per kg and it is now available for 35 per kg. The prices of dry dates have also gone up nearly 10-fold. Salt and dry dates are now being imported from Dubai and Afghanistan.”

He said India was exporting dozens of items, including soya bean, chicken feed, vegetables, red chillies, cotton, and spares for automotives, biscuits, newsprints, plastic granules and fresh mutton, through the land route.

In the year 2019-20, the integrated check post (ICP) Attari had witnessed only 2,767-crore trade, which was 4,354 crore in 2018-19.


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