ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Federal Cabinet of Pakistan has given the permission to import half a million metric tons of sugar and large quantities of cotton, yarn and wheat from India after a suspension of trade since 2019.
Pakistan had suspended bilateral trade with India from August 9, 2019 in the aftermath of New Delhi’s unilateral action which changed the constitutional status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammi and Kashmir.
The resumption of trade ties comes at a time of growing inflation in Pakistan, and this move has the potential to signficantly reduce inflation in Pakistan.
Earlier, Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa had expressed a desire for peace with India after which PM Imran Khan and PM Narendra Modi exchanged courteous letters to each other.
The newly-appointed Finance Minister Hammad Azhar said that the ECC has allowed the import of three million metric tons of wheat. The ECC has also approved procurement of 6.3 million metric tons of wheat from the local farmers at the minimum price of Rs1,800 per 40 kilogrammes.
As for sugar, prices of sugar are 15-20% cheaper in India, which will now also result in a downfall of sugar prices in Pakistan.
“We have allowed the import of sugar but in the rest of the world too, sugar prices are high because of which imports are not possible,” the minister said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has authorised to place the summary for the approval of the ECC.
The mismanagement of wheat and sugar stocks by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has made the country’s food security vulnerable despite being an agrarian economy.
Last month, Pakistan and India announced a ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) and agreed to a gradual step-wise approach to normalise bilateral relations.
Twitterati criticised PM Khan for a U turn on foreign policy. Senior journalist Najam Sethi said: “After India killed Art 370, we said it didn’t matter since we hadn’t accepted it in the first place. Then we protested & banned all trade & contacts until it was restored. Now we are ready to “normalise” without restoration of Article 370! Great Foreign Policy Strategy!”