Policy Brief – Pak – India Trade: A Regional Perspective

“Our agenda has been clearly laid out in terms of preparing timelines for complete normalisation of trade relationship and implementation of committed SAFTA obligations,” said Indian Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar in his opening remarks at the sixth round of talks between the commerce secretaries of India and Pakistan.

“I want to assure you that please have trust and faith in the process. Times have changed. World is coming closer,” said his Pakistani counterpart Zafar Mahmood. The statements made by both sides echoed the mandate given by their top leadership.

This dialogue clearly sets the tone for a different kind of diplomatic engagement, one that is committed to strengthening economic ties between the India and Pakistan, despite potential spoilers on both sides of the border. There is strong political will on both sides of the border to improve bilateral relations.

Pakistan has been stuck in a low-income and low-growth trap for a fairly lengthy stretch now. This low growth is slowly beginning to strangle its economy. Lacklustre economic performance is also threatening the very objective of sustained welfare improvement of its citizens. With a burgeoning population, energy shortages and a significant and rising number of unemployed youth, Pakistan needs a “˜growth vent’.

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