Pakistan to resume trade with India after 19-month hiatus

Pakistan Rangers (R) and Indian Border Security Force personnel take part in the daily flag lowering ceremony at their joint border post of Wagah near Lahore February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza/File Photo

Pakistan’s government will resume trade with India, in the latest sign that tensions are easing between the two nations.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s economic coordination committee approved importing cotton yarn until June, Finance Minister Muhammad Hammad Azhar said at a briefing in Islamabad Wednesday. it will also purchase 500,000 tons of sugar to help stabilize prices since the sweetner is 15%-20% cheaper in India, he said.

Pakistan downgraded diplomatic relations and suspended bilateral trade with India in August 2019 after New Delhi revoked autonomy for the disputed Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The nuclear-armed neighbors surprised the world last month with a rare joint commitment to respect a 2003 cease-fire agreement along a disputed border that has seen three wars and regular gunfire. The India-Pakistan cease-fire marked a milestone in secret talks brokered by the United Arab Emirates, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.

In a further sign of thawing relations, Khan replied to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s greetings on Pakistan Day with a March 29 letter calling for the creation of an “enabling environment” between the two countries to resolve outstanding issues. Pakistan’s army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa also asked India “to bury the past and move forward” in rare comments made this month.

Pakistan’s move to import cotton follows a drop in local production, which is estimated to be below six million bales as of March 1, the lowest in at least 30 years.




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