Pakistan-India trade continues amid tension KARACHI: Trade between Pakistan and India remains unaffected by mounting tension between the two countries over the Kashmir issue.
The arrival and availability of Indian goods in Jodia Bazaar, Marriot Road and adjacent markets, which form the hub of the country’s wholesale trade, have not seen any interruption since the Uri attack on September 18.
Traders selling Indian goods like cosmetics and jewellery have not shown any anxiety over the escalating tension along the border because of smooth flow of goods from India.
“Made-in-India products are easily available here. There has been no suspension in the import of goods from the neighbouring country,” a trader dealing in cosmetics and jewellery in Jodia Bazaar said, adding that the war like situation has not affected his business.
Traders noted that there has been no price increase or shortage of Indian goods either.
“Not only the arrival of goods from India is normal even exports are taking place at a usual pace,” said Haroon Agar, a leading commodity importer who also served as president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).
He said pulses, spices and dried fruits continue to land in Pakistan from India, as these items have not faced any shortage in the wholesale market so far.
Mr Agar said 90 per cent of the items arrive from India under a documentary procedure in which foreign traders send documents to Pakistani banks. Local traders collect the documents from the banks and get shipments released from the port.
“Gone are the days when imported goods would arrive via letters of credit (LCs),” he said, adding that most traders now import goods from India, Ukraine, Canada and Australia under the documentary procedure.
Mr Agar claimed that there is no question of smuggling under strict border checks that exist between India and Pakistan.
Trade balance between the two countries is in favour of India. In 2015-2016, exports from Pakistan to India plunged to $400 million from $415m in 2014-2015. India’s exports to Pakistan surged 27pc to $1.8 billion over the same period.
In contrast, KCCI believes that informal trade – in the form of either smuggling or personal baggage scheme – has existed for a long time mainly because of a number of hurdles affecting formal trade.
Illicit trade is being conducted mostly via Afghanistan whereby goods officially exported from India reach Pakistan through Peshawar or Dubai. Smuggled items include spices, coffee and tea, cashew nuts, confectionaries, alcoholic beverages, cosmetics and stainless steel utensils.
The quantum of informal Indian exports to Pakistan is estimated to be around $4bn while informal exports from Pakistan to India are about $0.8bn.