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Better trade relations fastest way to improve S Asian political environment

Lahore: Better trade relations between Pakistan and India are the surest and fastest way to improve South Asian economic and political environment, a business leader said Tuesday.

South Asia is one of the least integrated regions with intra-regional trade accounting for almost five per cent which has kept tens of millions of people below the poverty line for decades, said Mian Shahid, Mian Shahid.

Lauding the initiatives of the outgoing government and conscious strategy for regional integration he called for more incentives to Pakistani and India business community engaged in bilateral trade.

The government in this region have traditionally relied on bureaucracies which resulted in slow pace of trust building measures, he noted while speaking at Bedari-e-Fikr Forum.

He said that New Delhi and Islamabad should act swiftly to overcome issues like smuggling, circular trade and issues plaguing business to set an example for other countries in South Asia to follow.

Mian Shahid who is also Chairman of Apna Microfinance Bank said that normalising relations between India and Pakistan has mainly focused on trade liberalisation while more is needed to ensure considerable change.

The two countries need rapid cross-border investments, joint ventures, exchange of skilled workers, managers and experts as well as extending services will help reduce distortion of production and trade incentives to benefit whole Saarc region.

Pakistan and India shares a history of mistrust standing in the way of greater cooperation which must be sorted out to ensure a peaceful, prosperous, and more equitable future for majority of world’s poor living in this region, said Mian Shahid.

All outstanding issues including delay in granting MFN status to India can be resolved amicably if the business communities of the two countries continued their struggle and kept process of meeting and exchange of delegations alive.

Both countries have no other option but trade to improve lives of millions of people as
Intraregional trade of South Asia remains lower than all regions including Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

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