Study outlines gains from Indo-Pak trade; moots IT joint ventures

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New Delhi, Aug 24 (UNI) A study by an apex chamber has outlined new areas of Indo-Pak co-operation, saying that the two neighbouring countries need to enter into joint ventures to tap the global market for software and makes out a case for exploiting the shared cultural heritage for purposes of trade and travel.

"There is scope for trade and co-operation in the film, television and music sectors capitalising on the on the common culture and dynamic and expanding media industries in both countries," an ASSOCHAM study says.

It says tourism holds immense potential both for India and Pakistan, recognising the shared cultural heritage and the emergence of new and more dynamic and less risky airlines in both countries.

The study, entitled;'Indo-Pak trade ties,'gives a birds eye view of the recent developments relating to Indo-Pak economic co-operation and the change in the political environment in the "present phase of much aspired amicability." The other potential sectors for mutual co-operation include agricultural products, tyres, auto, spare parts, minerals, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, leather, textiles and telecommunications.

Given power shortages, the study argues for greater co-generation of electricity using coal and wind energy in the Sindh province of Pakistan.

Other areas offering profitable ventures could be health care and entertainment services.

It says there are huge opportunities for two-way trade in ready made garments, particularly ethnic garments such as shawls, salwar kameez and saris.

Trade in agricultural commodities could help bridge the short term supply shortages caused due to seasonal crop fluctuations.

Besides, India and Pakistan can enter into joint ventures for the production of bulk drugs by providing technology supply and management support.

The study says Pakistan is likely to face wheat shortage as its production is likely to plummet because farmers will be cultivating less of grain after fertiliser costs have risen in that country. The situation has worsened more with smugglers taking wheat into Afghanistan to fetch almost double the price of the grain.

The study says giving trucks passage through border posts has opened up new markets and has increased truck traffic by six fold to 60 a month because of which trade volume has jumped to 60 per cent to an estimated 85.715 tonnes in 2007-08.

A recent study by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) shows that bilateral trade volume between India and Pakistan could leapfrog ten fold in just a short time span as only two per cent of the trade potential has been achieved so far.

The SBI study also indicates that the quantum of trade between South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries remains limited to a low level of around 4.5 per cent of the total trade flows.

The ASSOCHAM study suggests a host of measures to achieve the target of Indo-Pak two-way trade to nine billion billion dollars in next few years even though at present there is a deadlock on the economic and political front between the two countries.

Despite the political differences, trade as per current estimates has touched around two billion dollars.

The study is of the view economic necessitates of the benefits of trade would help melt down the Indo-Pak political differences.

It visualises intensification of rail and road linkages between India and Pakistan, paving the way for larger movement of trade and tourism.

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