In a major volte-face by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan who after the abrogation of Article 370 had downgraded trade ties with India after sustained pressure from the Arab world and domestic demands has now allowed the import of cotton and sugar from India.
In what can be read as Pakistan accepting its inability to survive without imports of crucial commodities from India, the Islamic country has partially reversed its two-year old decision to suspend all trade with India as the country announced that it would allow the import of cotton and sugar from across the border.
Pakistan’s Finance Minister Hammad Azhar accepted that the country was forced to reverse its decision in light of rising prices and Pakistani industry’s need for the specific products as he stated that there was a high demand from cotton and cotton yarn from India.
“We have allowed the import of sugar, but in the rest of the world too, sugar prices are high because of which imports are not possible. But in our neighbouring country — India — the prices of sugar are much less as compared to Pakistan, so we have decided to reopen sugar trade with India up to 0.5 million tonnes for the private sector,” said the country’s newly appointed Prime Minister.
At the time of writing, India’s Ministry of External Affairs was yet to respond to this development and whether there would be any reciprocation from the Indian side.
Afaq Hussain, Director, Bureau of Research on Industry and Economic Fundamentals, said, “The decision by Pakistan to allow trade in the selected items will gradually lead to restoration of normalcy in India-Pakistan trade.”
He added, “It will help Pakistan’s domestic manufacturers to reduce their cost of production, which had increased because of the trade ban from India. The garment manufacturing industry in Pakistan will be a key beneficiary while it is also going to benefit manufacturers and exporters in India along with the stakeholders in trade, like truckers and service staff, in Punjab.”
The latest thaw in bilateral ties between India and Pakistan had many geopolitical enthusiasts thinking about the reasons which went behind the sudden positive moves. A report by Bloomberg revealed that the United Arab Emirates is playing the peacemaker between New Delhi and Islamabad, and has worked out a four-step “roadmap for peace” for the two nuclear powered countries to achieve lasting peace. Earlier in March, the UAE had demanded an immediate payback from Pakistan of a $1 billion loan which had reached maturity. Ever since, the enthusiasm of Pakistan to have peace with India has risen by leaps and bounds.