Jan 05 - Jan 11, 2004  
ISSUE # 01  

Pakistan's exports rose to $2.97 billion, not only was this 1.8 percent above the target for the period, it represented a robust 14.2 percent growth over the corresponding period of the previous year. With the exception of the first month of the current financial year i.e. July 2003, the monthly exports are consistently above the $1 billion mark. It appears that the country's exports are likely to surpass the target of $12 billion at the end of the year. Currently, the export sector is moving on the same pattern which is reflected in the overall performance in the first half of the year which is almost matching to the previous one.




By the time these lines are written a major breakthrough, long overdue as is, has been made to help transform the fledging South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), the biggest trading bloc in the world in theory at least. The Council of Ministers, comprising foreign ministers of the seven member states responsible for formulating the policies, met in Islamabad and agreed on the 2nd of this month ahead of the 12th Summit to set up a free trade area thereby paving way to replace Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) with Free Trade Area (SAFTA).


A. R. Jumabhoy proposes India, Pakistan and Bangladesh economic union whereby enhanced trade among the three countries may help in resolving political conflicts. Persistent conflict did not allow economic development. The task of bringing the governments of these countries at terms is not easy and can only be achieved if the business community plays its role. One may not necessarily immediately subscribe the move but the proposal is worth examining in detail.