August 1, 2005Economy

No sugar please

The colourful world of bilateral trade between India and Pakistan

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

It is both agonising and amusing to follow developments on the India-Pakistan bilateral trade front.

While Pakistan has allowed the import of garlic, tomato, onions, potatoes, and meat from India, Indian trucks are required to stop at the border.

Trucks from India…pull up to the Wagah border post but do not actually cross over into Pakistan. If the cargo is in sacks, it is unloaded a few metres away from the zero line separating the two countries and carried in relay by (grateful and underutilised) Indian and Pakistani porters up to waiting trucks on the other side. When the cargo is unbundled, the authorities allow the unloading and loading trucks to be parked back to back astride the zero line. [The Hindu]

But what works for potatoes and garlic does not work for sugar — the Pakistani government has banned the import of sugar from India (and Israel). And to complete the circle of absurdity, India which has okayed the export of buffaloes and goats, has restricted the export of cows (to avoid political controversy).

Pakistan has ambitions to emulate India’s success in the IT sector — it has welcomed Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to collaborate and invest in Pakistan. However another arm of the Tata group, Tata Motors, is forced to consider entering the Pakistani market through its South Korean unit, as the more direct bilateral route is not open to it.

And then there is the pipeline. One way to make the project feasible is for Iran to take the responsibility to deliver the gas at India’s border. Pakistan rules this out for it contends that Iran cannot own gas in Pakistani territory. Now, who can argue with that?

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