EU sees India largest trade partner of Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: The European Union (EU) has said that India should enjoy the privileged status of being Pakistan’s largest trading partner, not the EU.


“Pakistan should seek to become a regional champion of competition, opening its borders for trade and investment,” said European Union Ambassador to Pakistan Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, adding that a strong competition system will be essential to realise the potential for trade and investment.


The EU ambassador said that the incoming government has a heavy political mandate, which should be used to get rid of practices that are hampering economic growth - as well as foreign investment and trade.


“The incoming PML-N-led government should purge the country of cartels, price-fixing, distorting subsidies and kickbacks,” he said.


The ambassador went on to add that economic reforms in several sectors, including the energy sector, will have to be high on the agenda when the newly elected government takes up office.


“Everyone agrees that Pakistan must address these economic challenges, including the insufficient governance in many sectors of the economy,” he said while addressing an international conference on the “Role of Competition in Fostering Trade and Investment” organised by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) here on Wednesday.


Meanwhile, CCP Chairperson Rahat Kaunain Hassan said the economy and politics, whether domestic or external, were linked. Hassan said that even though competition legislation witnessed resistance initially, it has picked up recently in shape of more financial autonomy.


The CCP chairperson said the organisation is now coping with an ever increasing litigation portfolio and pursuing the disposal of cases before the courts, citing the recent establishment of the International Clearing House (ICH) in the telecom industry which has been held in violation of the Competition Act.


The EU ambassador also stressed for the need of an even stronger Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). “The ECP could have been more transparent, for instance, in terms of the early publishing of all available results from polling stations,” he said. However, Wigemark believed that even though there has been much debate about the ECP’s role in the recent elections, it is clear that without a strong election commission it would have been impossible to hold elections.


“The electoral laws, rules and regulations under the supervision of the Election Commission provide a framework for the holding of competitive elections,” he said, adding that the democratic system could be made stronger if this legal framework is made more transparent for all political actors including both political parties and voters.

Courtesy:  The News

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