Pakistan, India to normalize trade relations

Here and Now

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Pakistan on Wednesday surprised many outsiders and announced it would normalize trade relations with India.

The two countries, which have fought three wars since being granted independence from Great Britain in the 1940s and which still disagree over who governs the territory of Kashmir, have been holding talks recently in an effort to improve relations, so the announcement wasn’t a terrible surprise in India and Pakistan.

“This has been an announcement that has been expected for some weeks now. Certainly it’s going to be the top item on Pakistani news channels and in the newspaper tomorrow,” said Matthew Green, Pakistan and Afghanistan Correspondent for the Financial Times.

India, which voted to normalize trading with Pakistan in 1996, said it deeply appreciated the move by Pakistan.

Green said the decision to normalize trade was a calculated move by Pakistani leaders, who in recent years have seen the economies in India and China race ahead, while its own economy has stagnated.

They realize steps need to be taken to liberalize their economy and encourage investment, Green said.

But some in Pakistan remain suspicious of India in general and of what trade with the country of more than 1 billion might mean for Pakistan.

“In Pakistan, there’s often a sense that India’s behind many of the country’s problems, rightly or wrongly,” Green said.


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