India-Middle East-EU corridor can fuel growth: Experts : The Tribune India

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India-Middle East-EU corridor can fuel growth: Experts

India-Middle East-EU corridor can fuel growth: Experts

Stakeholders opine that Amritsar can gain maximum if the route passes through the border state.

Tribune News Service

Neeraj Bagga

Amritsar, September 17

Days after India, the UAE and the US launched India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) eyeing multiple routes via sea and land to ferry merchandise, city-based progressive farmers, industrialists and hospitality experts demanded that one of the potential routes should pass through the holy city.

Historically, the city’s businessmen exported green tea, brass kitchenware, traditional shoes, shawls and other material sourced from different parts of the country to Afghanistan and its neighbouring areas. In return, traders used to import dry fruits, fresh fruits and herbs from the land-locked country.

Experts are of the view that the proposed route could restore the pristine glory of trade ties between the holy city and Kabul. At present, the share of city-based traders in the total dry fruit imported by Indians from Afghanistan is only 10 per cent.

Experts said moving ahead, the holy city could be the gateway of prosperity for northern states by extending its present land trade route to Afghanistan via Pakistan to adjoining Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The land route is further linked to Iran and Iraq, which leads to the Gulf countries.

Closer ties with the Gulf and parts of Central Asian countries would bolster hospitality, farming and manufacturing sectors of the state in the long run, the experts said.

Kulwinder Singh, a progressive farmer, said the proposed route to the Gulf countries could be a harbinger of promising future for the farming industry of Punjab, which has been facing stagnation for the past some years.

Already, the Majha belt comprising Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur, was annually exporting aromatic basmati rice worth crores to the Gulf. Export of fresh farm produce to the Gulf could be a game changer with profit percolating to the grassroots level, he said. The region used to export fresh farm produce by air from the local airport to London, he said. Instead of eyeing Europe for the vegetable export, which was located far away from here, he opined that the Arab countries held an impressive market.

Gunbir Singh, a businessman, said, “From Punjab standpoint, if policy and agrarian experts dig between the lines, the era of rice and wheat economies has all but lost momentum. Millets and vegetables will hold centre stage.”

He said, “It is always remarkable when diverse nations are able to agree upon a common path conceding to work together despite parochial yet understandable commitments of their own.”

APS Chatha, a hotelier, said availability of the state-of-the-art infrastructure in the forms of an international airport, an international bus terminal, Integrated Check post and hotels in all categories, including luxury to mediocre, would come in handy to aid the swift movement of goods and people.

He said the holy city with its ideal geographical location was poised to gain maximum if the route passed through the border state. Though the bilateral trade with Pakistan was closed at present, a land route was available to the Gulf via Pakistan and Iran, he said. Already, the same route was being utilised for transportation of goods to Afghanistan, he added.

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