US Hopes Progress in Indo-Pak Trade Ties after LS Elections - The New Indian Express

US Hopes Progress in Indo-Pak Trade Ties after LS Elections

Published: 17th April 2014 01:22 PM

Last Updated: 17th April 2014 01:22 PM

The US has said it heard "some positive murmurings" in India and Pakistan that there will be progress in Indo-Pak trade ties after the Lok Sabha elections, saying there is no reason why bilateral trade cannot quadruple in a few years' time to USD 10 billion.

"Clearly, the biggest constraint to boosting trade and energy flows is in addressing the barriers between India and Pakistan," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal said in her address to the Harvard University in Boston.

Biswal said the US is encouraged by the economic progress that Pakistan has made in the past year, though it still faces many challenges ahead.

"An improved climate between Pakistan and its largest neighbour can pay enormous economic dividends. India-Pakistan trade in 2013 was still a paltry USD 2.5 billion. There's no reason that number can't quadruple in a few years' time to USD 10 billion," Biswal said.

"We have heard some positive murmurings in Islamabad and Delhi that both governments are moving in this direction and we are hopeful that they will make progress after the Indian election," Biswal said.

Pakistan early this month said the process of granting Non-Discriminatory Market Access to India has not been shelved but only postponed to avoid favouring a particular political party ahead of polls.

Biswal said this is clearly a time of great dynamism across South Asia, with elections and transitions that have been unfolding over the past year and concluding over the next few months.

While the transition in Afghanistan is the cause of much angst and anxiety, they are focused on the opportunities and imperative it creates for connecting the economies of South Asia and Central Asia, she added.

Through the New Silk Road vision US has been focusing its efforts in four key areas - creating regional energy markets that link Central with South Asia; Boosting transportation routes and investing in critical infrastructure; Improving customs and borders; and linking businesses and people.

"From CASA (Central Asia-South Asia)-1000? which will bring surplus hydropower form Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan ? to TAPI ? the Turkmenistan- Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline ? the US is supporting the countries of the region as they build the economic and energy linkages that will transform their individual and collective economies," Biswal said.

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