Indian paper mills to benefit from Islamabad freeing imports
Indian paper mills are set to benefit from Pakistan freeing imports from India. Following the recent permission to allow import of newsprint from India, the neighbouring country is likely to free import of other varieties of paper by the year end. According to representatives of the All Pakistan Paper Merchants Association, which met with the Indian Paper Manufacturers Association, the trade there is hopeful that the Government will allow imports of a wider variety of paper by the year end. Pakistan needs about 4 lakh tonnes of paper, annually, but the domestic production, mostly from recycled paper, meets just about half the requirement. The balance is imported from Europe and elsewhere, according to the Association’s president, Khamis Saeed Butt. Cheaper from India Speaking over the telephone following the meeting with IPMA representatives in Delhi, the Merchants Association’s chief said Pakistan and India could benefit by the trade. Imports for Pakistan would be at least 20 per cent cheaper from India than from Europe and the waiting time for consignments would be reduced to days instead of weeks and months. The industry there is pushing for getting paper out of the negative list. Newsprint is outside the negative list, and extending that benefit to printing paper will help even more. Pakistan is focussing on the education sector and good quality printing and writing paper is an essential need. Madhukar Mishra, President of the Manufacturers Association, which represents the large paper mills, said India exports about 3.5 lakh tonnes of paper annually. The port route Even a portion of the potential 2 lakh tonne market in Pakistan will represent a significant benefit for large paper mills particularly in the North. Paper could be supplied by the land route within a week as compared with a month or more needed to import from Sweden or Pakistan. Sohail Lashari of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who led the delegation, said domestic demand is growing by about 7 per cent annually but production does not match demand. Imports are inevitable, and India and Pakistan could both benefit from this trade partnership. An industry expert said at least one-fourth of Pakistan’s imports could be met from India. Apart from the land route, port-based exports can reach the hinterland more effectively, and this presents a widespread opportunity for the Indian industry.