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Onus on Pakistan to resume bilateral trade : Goyal

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NEW DELHI : Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Shri Piyush Goyal informed the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that the onus of resumption of bilateral trade discontinued since August 2019 lies with the Pakistan government.

Responding to a question raised by Congress MP from Khadoor Sahib Jasbir Singh Gill (Dimpa), Goyal said that though no specific route has been mentioned in statutory regulatory order (SRO) of Pakistan, Atari-Wagah border in Punjab and Karachi Port are normally the two major trade routes between India and Pakistan.

It was in August 2019 when Pakistan took a number of measures to downgrade the bilateral relations with India and one of them was to unilaterally suspend the bilateral trade with India, informed Goyal through his written reply. However, export of only therapeutic products has been allowed vide Pakistan’s ministry of commerce and textile’s SRO No. 977 (i)/2019 of September 2, 2019, he added. Congress MP Dimpa had asked whether the central government proposes to start trade wit Pakistan from Wagah border and Khalra border. He had also asked the details of sea ports or land borders through which trade is being carried with Pakistan at present.

Trade bodies on both sides of the international border had been demanding resumption of trade ties for a long time. India used to import limestone, sulphur, rock salt, mineral fuel, fruits, leather, surgical instruments among other items from Pakistan. Whereas, India exported cotton, organic chemicals, pharmaceutical products, plastics, paints, apparel articles, and machinery among others to its neighbour. After the Pulwama terror attack, India had on Feb 17, 2019, hiked the customs duty to 200% on the import of goods from Pakistan, resulting in bringing down imports from Pakistan. Later, India revoked Article 370 of the Constitution that provided autonomy and special powers to the state of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019, and split the state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Following this, the Pakistan govt had on August 7, 2019, suspended bilateral trade with India and expelled India’s high commissioner to Islamabad. Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-Ul-Haq Kakar had in September last year said that trade relations between Pakistan and India cannot be restored till the Kashmir dispute’s resolution.

Pakistan has closed its borders with Afghanistan and Iran for security during the general elections. The closure aims to ensure stability and will last until February 9.

Stringent security measures have been implemented with army troops deployed and sensitive polling stations marked nationwide. Authorities are determined to safeguard the democratic process from disruption by terrorist elements.

The Indian team’s next competition will be in September. They have shown strong performance and strategic planning in the Davis Cup tie, and will continue to prepare for future matches.

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