India can potentially triple its existing $19 billion worth goods trade with South Asia to $62 billion, says a World Bank study. Indo-Pak trade alone can increase from $2 billion to $37 billion, and the remainder can come from increased engagements with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan. A sudden prioritisation of trade, at least with Pakistan, may not be possible but eternal peace can hardly be a pre-condition for healthy trade relationships. Instead, robust trade should bring countries closer at the negotiation table on other matters. Trade with neighbours accounts for 50 per cent of total trade in East Asia and the Pacific. It is just five per cent of South Asia's total trade. It is high time we improve this.
- Joe C Mathew