New Delhi, Sep 28 (PTI) Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu Friday said the government was more than happy to develop intra-regional trade with all the countries in South Asia. Also Read - India to be Under Lockdown For 21 Days, Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Spike to 536

His remarks came while addressing a conference after the release of a World Bank report which said India has the potential to more than triple its trade with South Asia. Also Read - COVID-19 LIVE: Next 3-4 Weeks Are Crucial, PM Modi Tells State CMs | Top Developments

He said the government will do everything possible to realise India’s trade potential with countries in the region. Also Read - India vs South Africa 1st ODI, Highlights: Match Abandoned Without Toss in Dharamsala Due to Rain

The report pegs India’s trade potential with countries in the South Asian region at USD 62.4 billion, from USD 19.1 billion at present.

The trade potential between India and Pakistan stands at USD 37 billion, according to the World Bank report. It said the continued political tensions and lack of normal trade relations between the two nations have cast a shadow over cooperation efforts within South Asia.

“Just imagine there is someone next door waiting for that opportunity and we are not able to tap it, therefore, we will do everything possible,” Prabhu said.

He said the Commerce and Industry Ministry was willing to engage with World Bank and will organise a small workshop.

“I will direct my officers to take concrete action on this report to realise the (South Asia trade) potential,” said the minister.

He urged the World Bank to explore the potential offered by services trade in the region.

Sanjay Kathuria, Lead Economist and Coordinator, South Asia Regional Integration, The World Bank Group, said in order to realise the benefits of proximity, addressing regional trade barriers was pivotal.

“Average tariffs on South Asia are double the world average and there was a lack of awareness among exporters regarding the partner country’s regulations and standards. “This called for a proactive approach, led by India, to address information asymmetries and accelerate mutual recognition of standards,” Kathuria said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.