Pakistan has lifted a nearly two-year ban on trade with India. Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Council (ECC), a top decision-making body, allowed the private sector to import 0.5 million tonnes of white sugar as Islamabad tries to keep soaring domestic prices in check.
Pakistan Finance Minister Hammad Azhar announced the decision after the ECC concluded. He also confirmed that Pakistan will also import cotton and cotton yarns from India.
“If opening trade with some country lessens burden on the pocket of an ordinary person, there is no harm in it,” Azhar told a news conference in Islamabad. “The price of sugar in our neighbour India is quite a bit lower than Pakistan.”
The trade is open until June 30 for local private sector to import the sugar while cotton and cotton yarns could be brought in by both the private companies and Pakistan’s government bodies.
India is the world’s biggest producer of cotton and the second biggest sugar producer. Exports to its neighbour will reduce surpluses that are weighing on its local markets, while helping Pakistan to lower soaring sugar prices.
The chairman of the Cotton Ginners Forum in Pakistan, Ishan-ul-Haque, said an unlimited import of cotton and yarn from India would affect the country’s agriculture and cotton industry. Given the expected arrival of the new cotton crop in June, he said there should be a limit on imports so price stability could be ensured.