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ISLAMABAD: The ban on trade with India may be lifted soon as the recent get well messages from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Prime Minister Imran Khan are said to have melted ice.

This indication came from Prime Minister’s Advisor on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood, during a brief chat with Business Recorder.

On March 20, 2021, Indian Prime Minister, in a tweet wished speedy recovery to Prime Minister Imran Khan who has tested positive for Covid-19. Prime Minister, in his tweet, thanked all those who sent him good wishes.

Modi also sent a letter to Prime Minister Khan on the Pakistan Resolution Day, saying that he desires cordial relations with “the people of Pakistan”.

Speaking at the Islamabad Security Dialogue, last week, Army Chief General, Qamar Javed Bajwa said: “It is time to bury the past and move forward.”

“Since the recent thawing began the Prime Minister is in isolation being Covid positive. I haven’t talked to him as I don’t want to disturb him. I sincerely hope that trade with India will start again. Trade should be separated from politics,” Dawood said.

On August 10, 2019, Pakistan imposed a ban on trade with India, due to escalation of violations on Line of Control and Working Boundary and after New Delhi withdrew Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status from Pakistan after the Pulwama incident. The bilateral trade of India and Pakistan was less than of $ 2 billion, when both countries slapped a ban on trade with the other. However, Islamabad did import life-saving drugs from India.

In reply to a question, Dawood said that a decision on import of cotton from India through land route is expected soon and he would be according approval to the proposal.

“I am approving the proposal which will be considered by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet in its forthcoming meeting. ECC will approve it as all concerned authorities are very keen to do it. They say, it has to be done,” he added.

Answering another question, he said he is not aware of the exact quantity that is likely to be allowed to be imported from India, adding that there should be restriction on quantity.

He contended that local price of cotton has increased “too much” and import from India will provide some relief to the industry.

At a recent meeting of National Assembly Standing Committee on Commerce, Syed Naveed Qamar, Chairman of the Committee, maintained that cotton should be imported from all countries, including India, “where ever it is cheap”, adding that the import of expensive cotton will have trickledown effect on value chains.

In response to a question about continuous decline in Foreign Direct Investment, (FDI), Razak Dawood, who also deals with investment, stated that basic problem is Covid-19 due to which investors are not visiting Pakistan.

He, however, was of the view that volume of domestic investment is substantial in different sectors, including textiles.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021