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Integrated check post in Punjab imposes restrictions on traders

Attari, Sat, 07 Apr 2012 ANI

Attari (Punjab), Apr.7 (ANI): The proposed Integrated Check Post (ICP) in Attari, Punjab, might not prove beneficial to traders, as Pakistan has notified its negative list for the country, which allows the import of only 137 items through the Wagah-Attari route, instead of the 2,000 odd items mentioned earlier.

According to media reports, traders have claimed that out of the 137 items, most of them are already exported through the Wagah border. The items include livestock, carcasses, meat, vegetables, pineapple, pepper, newsprint, cement and yarn.

The authorities believe that the present situation is confusing, as the restrictions imposed by the Pakistan Government could hamper trade ties between the two nations.

"The recent list, which has been issued by them has resulted in the emergence of a very confusing situation; because the 5600 items that they had allowed from India, but restricted 137 items for the Wagah border, this will be a matter of concern in the long run for Wagah trade and I request the Indian government that they immediately look into the matter, because generally business is from country to country and not state to state," said Director, Khanna Paper Mills and former chairman, Confederation of Indian Industry, Zonal Council, Amritsar, Suneet Kochar.

Though the trade between the two countries is likely to get a boost with the opening of the ICP, there are some who believe that the matter should be immediately resolved, so as to avert conflicts in the long run.

Member of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), National Council for Public Policy, Gunbir Singh said that the ICP must be extended to another 300 to 400 metres, so that it could cover the railway line as well.

"See, ICP is an infrastructure, which was really required and its construction has resulted in the rise of the potential of trade between India and Pakistan. Until now, the capacity was for the movement of about 200 trucks. After the construction of ICP, now the capacity has increased and the now 2000 trucks can move per day. But, there are still some issues, which are unresolved. I had earlier suggested that this ICP must be extended to another 300 to 400 metres, which can also cover the railway line," he said.

Pakistan currently allows only 1,946 items from India, including things like cosmetics and spices.

Most of them aren't traded directly. Only 109 goods are allowed through Atari-Wagah, while the bulk is channeled via third countries such as Dubai and Singapore, slowing deliveries and increasing costs.

Restrictions and freight cost have encouraged smuggling in items like tyres and machine parts across their border and also through Afghanistan. Analysts estimate the smuggling at up to two billion dollars, more than the legal trade.

Union Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram will inaugurate it on April 13. (ANI)

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