Islamabad, July 20 : Pakistan Federal Minister for Trade and Commerce Ahmed Mukhtar has said that it is important to come out of "Indophobia" and cultivate Pakistan-India bilateral trade.
Talking to reporters here, Mukhtar described India as an important economic partner of Pakistan and that the business community on this side of the border needed to be bold vis- -vis trade with India.
The Daily Times quoted him, as saying that India had granted Pakistan the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status but trade barriers inhibited Pakistan from reciprocating the move.
The minister urged the investors in the country to explore avenues of trade in the region.
He said that China was a potential market for Pakistani exports. After the signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China, Pakistani exports to the socialist state had increased manifold.
On the issue of smuggling, he said the only way of dealing with the menace was to ensure uniform prices of commodities in the region.
He said the export of rice had increased considerably reaching a record 1.9 billion dollar level during the fiscal year 2007-08.
"Pakistan has signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) with China, Malaysia, Iran, Sri Lanka and Mauritius, while similar agreement would be signed with the European Union next year," he said.
"Last year Pakistan exported defence equipments worth 63 million dollars and the government would hold the IDEA Exhibition to boost the defence related exports," he added.