Seeking to give a new dimension to trade with Pakistan, India, on Thursday, proposed a shift towards rail-based container movement of goods between the two neighbouring countries to give a fillip to trade and, at the same time, reduce transaction costs.
Addressing a two-day annual conference on ‘Normalising India-Pakistan Trade’ here, Minister of Railways Pawan Kumar Bansal said rail-based containers would also bring down the burden on the road sector. “Trade facilitation measures such as development of integrated check posts will give a boost to bilateral trade through the land route. One other step to give a further fillip could be the introduction of containerisation. Presently, there are two points where rail link is working—Attari in Punjab and Munnabao in Rajasthan. We can negotiate to take forward the containerisation issue. We can also work together to develop technology solutions in railway sector for our common needs. As a long term strategy for developing our economies, both India and Pakistan have agreed to be part of UN project of Trans-Asia Railway Network,” he said.
The Railway Minister said the national transporter had an important role to play in boosting trade between both countries. Mr. Bansal said as India and Pakistan moved towards normalising their bilateral trading regimes, there would be new trading opportunities for both countries. “There is a large untapped trade potential between the two countries, and various estimates suggest that potential trade could vary between .5 to 20 times of actual trade,” he said.
Pakistan's exports to India during April 2012 to January 2013 registered a 50 per cent increase over the same period in previous year to $475 million from $320 million.