Pakistan and India Trade: Challenges and Prospects
South Asian countries have their historic affiliations with each other either it is economical or religious. The background of Pak-India trade is as old as creation of Pakistan in 1947. In the beginning, Pakistan was dependent on many imported items from India whereas Pakistan exports had been less.
The war of 1965 had halted most of the trade for many years and 1971 war had made India to think as big power in this region. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives have been measured as weaker countries. Besides, Nepal and Bhutan are two landlocked countries in South Asian region and dependent on India for accessing sea ports and poor economies comparatively. Despite all these facts, Pakistan and India developed their arms’ strength up to the nukes and cruise missiles. Pakistan has established its strategically-determined place in the world-once it exploded nukes in answer to India’s nuclear explosions in 1998.
Consequently, different level talks have been conducted between governments and world powers to enable the two wall-to-wall neighbours and extreme rivals Pakistan and India to sit for table talk – definitely, not as foes but as friends for Peace and Prosperity in this region. Since the world has realised that Pakistan’s nukes are in safe hands therefore possibilities of the war between the two rival countries have become reduced.
However, the use of arsenals is randomly exchanged and both the countries show their three Ms [Mind+Muscle+Money] to each other at their own freewill and convenience. Pakistan and Indian have signed a Protocol on resuming trade relations in 1974 on the list of mutually-agreed items. After signing this Protocol people of two countries made it possible to do some trade with each other that motivated governments of India and Pakistan to consider the potential of trade for economic gains.
According to the database available with UNITC-WITS India-Pakistan trade have been merely US $209 million in the years 2000, which India exported for US $162 million and imported material from Pakistan for US $47 million. These figures increased to total trade of two countries for US $1,972 billion, in which India exported for US $1,659 millions and imported material from Pakistan for US $313 millions, in year 2011.
Experts are upholding and complimenting the statics that show; there is a potential to increase the bilateral trade to nine or ten -folds. Considering all these figures and potential of trade between India and Pakistan questions- What exactly stopping Pakistan and India to do free trade with each other as closest most neighbours?
The answer to above mentioned question is very simple. The cross-border trade of India and Pakistan has been a subject matter to many political relations of the two countries. Other than economic factors have been inflicted upon the two neighbours- Certain, foreign policies of these countries are deliberately influenced by the National Security. Governments’ issues visa Big Qs Marks. Nonetheless, cross-border movement of people is controlled or influx of passengers and goods to either ‘gateway of the two countries’ is in the hands of two governments. Whether, it is flow of finance and or frequent telecommunication services is also in the control of our governments.
Moreover, our intellectuals intellectualise phrasal verbal ideologue that’s “people-to-people Contact” subsequently, a key to strengthening relations between India and Pakistan. Trade groups like chambers of commerce & industry and national associations are also ‘dialoguing’ the same ideologue. Concurrently, government to government contacts are not providing that basic ‘leverage’ to jerk the people and trade groups’ regional trade exchange up to the mark! There are many questions that arise.
Why South Asia is kept in deliberate territorial conflicts? Why economic and trade issues of either country are not taken into cognisance? Why conflicts are meant to be the direct source of survival of the two countries’ armies? Why free visas are not being given? We are afraid of whom? Why we are not safe at our hands? What is not possible if we want as governments; intelligentsias and diplomacy? Are we to survive our regional or global interests by putting our feet in our own mouth (by generating security issues and internal conflicts within each other’s countries)?
But…! The answer is one, our own security is in our own hands- if we really want to see our neighbour secure? There is a famous maxim: “The fire in neighbour’s home will catch your own home if you do not extinguish it…?” Relevantly speaking, recommendations to the governments of two countries must be reviewed and followed up by the “Equilibrium of Security Appraisals” both from within and without the country. Now, you can’t secure the countries’ borders and set on afire your cities and towns; your schools and hospitals and your mosques and churches. Alas! Then, where trade facilitation and developing trade partnership stand? Can we imagine trade and development with peace and stability of geopolitical security?
Both countries can achieve high figures by realising four major categories of Security Objectives eg (1) umbrella (2) goods-specific (3) control-specific and (4) safety-specific. Both countries can use the international conventions as an umbrella for multilateral security initiatives such as Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention, Chemical Weapons Conventions and UN Security Council Resolutions. Core objective for border security and management can be achieved by (1) Promoting free and secure movement of goods, people, services and investments across borders in conformity with law through security-enhanced travel documentation (2) by detecting, deterring and disrupting transnational crime; organised crime; illegal migration; corruption; smuggling and trafficking in weapons, drugs and human beings
(3) by promoting high standards in border services and national structures (4) by promoting dignified treatment of people wanting to cross the border and comply with international conventions (5) by promoting dignified treatment of people crossing the border in conformance with law, international conventions and human rights (6) by creating beneficial conditions for prosperity and the social, economic, and cultural benefit of communities
(7) by fostering joint economic development prospects and developing common spaces of freedom and justice (8) by securing the International transport circuit for supply of commodities and (9) by reducing terrorism threat by preventing cross-border movement of goods, people and funds connected with terrorism.
As improving Regional Security Initiatives they are important to be achieved by implementing WCO Container Control Program; UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy; WCO Safe Framework of Standards and the FAST (Free and Secure Trade) Programme. Similarly, the goods-specific Initiatives have to be taken in place for trade facilitation such as prohibition and restrictions on certain trade such as material used in illegal manufacture of illicit drugs; counterfeit goods; wildlife etc along with transport-specific Initiatives that pre-selection of transport vehicles destined for each other countries. Enhanced non-intrusive scanning technology for secure freight and enhanced-security documentation and filing out the profiling and screening importer security.
There has to be integrated “whole of government” approaches to border management. According to WCO SAFE guidelines that are Revised Kyoto Convention-general provision on customs control; timely and accurate advanced electronic information for risk assessment and clearance; authorised traders/supply lines, integrated documents and physical controls for shipments; personal and information security; Common and integrated risk standards for information and intelligence sharing and joint monitoring of control procedures; Seal integrity program; Unique Consignment Reference (UCR); e-business and electronic interface with government; rapid (and preferably electronic) release of “clear” cargo and “single window” trade data input and sharing.
Final note: If the two governments follow the lines as below, they would achieve much more than the simple economic benefits. The summary of this article and message to the governments is mentioned below:-
Global trade and security environment necessitates working in partnership with trade and other government agencies Traditional approach to border- management will not work in future create models for customs and trade partnership developing consultative mechanism between governments and trade groups are important to bring out the best practices models for partnership and collaborations.