New Delhi: Stating India-Pakistan economic ties have been a victim of politics, former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha said the trade between the two countries can go up to USD 15-12 billion annually if necessary measures are put in place.
"Trade and economic relations between two countries have been victim of politics. Unless we delink it from politics we can't improve trade between India and Pakistan.
"Trade between two countries has gone up from USD 0.6 billion in 2004 to USD 2.7 billion in 2014 and it can go upto USD 15-20 billion if you just put in place the necessary measures," Sinha said at an event here.
He recalled that while India gave most favoured nation (MFN) status to Pakistan in 1996, Islamabad had yet to reciprocate the same.
Sinha, who was also External Affairs Minister in NDA government led by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, urged both countries to start trading in their own currency.
"We have not reached any agreement with regard to currency. Why can't we start trading in our own currency and facilitate more and more trade," he said.
The former finance minister also suggested that India promote an asymmetrical relationship with its neighbour and not insist on parity.
"If Pakistan has 400-500 goods which are on the restricted list, that is no reason for India not to permit every item from Pakistan. If Pakistan is not giving permission for Indian bank branches to open in Pakistan, then also there is no reason why we should not permit Pakistan banks to start operation in India.
"Unless we do it, India will not able to create confidence in our neighbourhood including Pakistan, that is necessary in order to promote good relationship," Sinha said.
He also urged both India and Pakistan to improve infrastructure to facilitate better trade relationship.
Sinha also stressed the need to have pressure groups in both the countries.
"Trade and economic relationship between India and Pakistan can be medicine that will cement cracks in political relationship," he said.