By Special Correspondent
In an unprecedented move, Congress MP Gurjit Singh Aujla from Amritsar urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to resume trade between India and Pakistan and other Central Asian countries and to bring about a new trade policy that is more appropriate to the post-COVID pandemic world.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Aujla said that bilateral trade between India and Pakistan is sluggish at around USD 2.5 billion annually, while the World Bank’s potential is USD 37 billion.
“Therefore, in order to give a fresh start to the agriculture and economic rejuvenation of the region, I request your good office to consider the opening of diplomatic channels for the resumption of trade and also for a fresh trade policy more acceptable in the post-pandemic world,” he said in a letter.
The leader of the Congress pointed out that the border district of Amritsar suffered enormously as a result of the imposition of 200 percent customs duties on imports from Pakistan in February 2019, the abrupt end of a trade by Islamabad in August 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the implementation of new farm legislation.
He also called for consideration to make Punjab the hub of the relationship between India and Pakistan, and to improve the state’s trade routes.
“This would allow the agricultural products originating in Indian Punjab to get preferential market access in Pakistan, thus benefitting the farmers of Punjab,” Aujla said.
The direct impact of disruption in border trade is most felt in Punjab, particularly among the more than 20,000 Amritsar families that rely on this trade, he said. Aujla said that Amritsar’s local economy suffered a loss of nearly Rs 30 crore received per month from border trade.
He said that, after the opening of the Kartarpur corridor, there was a possibility of looking at bilateral relations from a different perspective.