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The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet decided to lift ban on cotton and sugar imports from India. A day later, the federal cabinet turned down its decision. Addressing a press conference, finance minister Hammad Azhar, who also holds the portfolio of Minister of Industries and Production, said among other things, that “sugar prices in neighbouring India are much lower compared to Pakistan, so the government has decided to open sugar trade through private sector with India and import 0.5 million tons of the commodity.”

The ECC move, in my view, was the combination of economic and geographic factors relating to bilateral trade between the two neighbours. But it was a mistake committed by the country’s top economic policymaking body. Be that as it may, the cabinet has rejected the ECC decision for all the right reasons. Resumption of trade with India is not possible unless it is ready to restore the status quo ante in relation to India-occupied Jammu & Kashmir and Article 370 of Constitution. That prime minister Imran Khan is exactly correct or accurate is a fact: ‘There can be no trade with India under the current circumstances’.

Zafar Hasmi (Islamabad)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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