Railway Minister Pawan Bansal favoured rail-based container transportation between India and Pakistan, while speaking at a conference here on Thursday.

The implementation of this proposal would require a rail service agreement between the Railway systems of two Governments and clearance from Ministry of External Affairs.

“One step to give further fillip to the bilateral trade between the two countries could be introduction of containerisation. Rail-based movement of containers across the boundary will not only ease the road traffic, but also help trade in offering door-to-door service to its customers, which would also help in cutting down the transaction cost,” said Bansal , while speaking at a conference here.

At present, rail-based container transportation is not allowed between India and Bangladesh as well. Nepal is the only adjoining country with which rail-based container transportation is permitted.

Road transport

At present, road-based container movement is allowed between the two countries. “Trucks moving between India and Pakistan through Wagah border have the option to move goods in containers,” said SP Singh, Senior Fellow, Indian Foundation of Train Research and Training.

Trade facilitation measure such as development of Integrated Check Posts will give a boost to the bilateral trade through the land route, he said.

Areas in which there are wider trade facilities are agriculture and processed food items, petroleum products, chemicals, automobiles, processed foods and textiles. These possibilities could be realised effectively if firms link up to global and regional value chains. There are also possibilities in the services sector. Information technology, healthcare and the audio-visual sector are most promising.

mamuni.das@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on March 14, 2013)
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