India-Pakistan enmity costing them trade worth $35 billion annually: World Bank report
Washington, Sept 26: Just when India and Pakistan are witnessing a phase of verbal warfare against each other, the World Bank (WB) has come up with a revelation which should make both the sides worried.
According to a report published by the WB titled 'A Glass Half Full: The Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia' released on Monday, September 24, the rivalry between the two South Asian countries is costing them annual trade worth $35 billion. The report highlighted a long list of product restrictions between the two countries' bilateral trade.
The financial body has asked South Asia, one of the least integrated regions of the world, to cooperate more instead of fighting. The report published last week said India and Pakistan - South Asia's largest economies - could see their trade jump to $37 billion from a mere $2 billion if they decided against continuing their feud.
The WB also said "intraregional" trade in goods could reach $67 billion from $23 billion if the South Asian nations got rid of tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
However, it doesn't seem the political leaderships of the two countries are giving it a thought. Last week, the meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was scuttled because of the two countries' mutual suspicion and it was followed by strong verbal attacks from either side of the border.
India cancelled the meeting saying Islamabad's "evil agenda" had been exposed and any talks between the two sides would be "meaningless". This happened a day after India's foreign ministry said it accepted Pakistan's request for a foreign minister-level meeting on the UNGA sidelines. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was aghast with India's move and attacked the Indian leadership saying "small men who occupy big offices and lacked the vision to see the larger picture".