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Pakistan lifts private sector import ban on white sugar, cotton from India: Sources

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Pakistan government on Wednesday allowed the country’s private sector to import 0.5 millions tonnes of white sugar from India, suggesting relaxation in suspended trade ties between the two nuclear-powers. 

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The news came a day after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi underlining the primacy of the Kashmir issue for his country and calling for the creation of an enabling environment for the “result oriented dialogue” with India.

On Wednesday, Pakistan’s top economic decision-making body, allowed its private sector players the import of 0.5 million tonnes of white sugar from India. Notably, the Economic Coordination Council, had earlier too, allowed the import of cotton and yarn from India.

It is to be mentioned that 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 ahead of Ramadan.

On August 5, 2019, Pakistan had shut all trade with India after the government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. If approved, the reopening of trade will be an important step forward, after the ceasefi ire breakthrough last month, in efforts to impart at least a semblance of normalcy to ties. 

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The ties between the two countries started thawing last month when both declared a ceasefire along the Line of Control and other sectors. 

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had written a letter to PM Khan extending greetings to the people of the country on the occasion of Pakistan Day.

Soon after the declaration of ceasefire, PM Khan, during his two-day visit to Sri Lanka, advocated dialogue as the way forward for the two nations. 

“I didn’t succeed, but I am optimistic that eventually, common sense will prevail. The only way the subcontinent can tackle poverty is by improving  trade relations. Let us live like civilised neighbours, just as the Europeans live,” he said while addressing the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Conference in Colombo.

“Germany and France have fought multiple times, but today it is unthinkable for them to have a conflict because they are so interlinked due to trade. Similarly, my dream for the subcontinent is that we resolve our differences,” he said, adding that he Kashmir issue was the only reason for conflict in the region.

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A day later on March 18, Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said stable ties between Pakistan and India were the key to unlocking the full potential of south and central Asia and stressed that it was time for the countries to “bury the past and move forward”. 

“Stable Indo-Pak relations are the key to unlocking the potential of south and central Asia by ensuring connectivity between east and west Asia. But this potential has always remaned hostage to the disputes and issues between the two nuclear neighbours,” Gen Bajwa had said at the National Security Dialogue in Islamabad. 

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