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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Trade with Pakistan tops Indian agenda

  Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal on Tuesday said that India was very keen to increase trade with Pakistan, saying that strengthening trade ties with Pakistan was the top priority of India. He also said that his country wanted to enhance the Pak-India trade volume from existing $2 billion to $6 billion.
He was addressing the members of the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) here. Arvind Saxena, Counsellor Economic & Commercial, Aquino Vimal, First Secretary-Visa of Indian High Commission, and SCCI President Naeem Anwar Qureshi were also present on his occasion.
The Indian High Commissioner said that India was actively building up its trade and economic relations with Pakistan and other countries on priority basis. He said the Indian government has warmly welcomed the MFN status to India by Pakistan and said that Indian government was actively considering exploring trade potential between India and Pakistan besides considering Pakistani proposal of removing the non-tariff barriers (NTBs).
He further said the trade promotional dialogue between Pakistan and India was moving towards the right direction, saying that Pakistan have given very positive response to India in this regard. He said that the time was ripe for both of the neighbours to strengthen the mutual trade.
The Indian envoy vowed to continue the dialogues between Pakistan and India in this regard and said ?we wish to promote trade with Pakistan and both sides should keep it up?. He said that a separate gate and other facilities were being established at the Wagha border for speedy handling of export cargo, adding that the establishment of a separate gate would provide hurdle-free transportation facilities at the border.
The Indian HC said that Pakistani Commerce Minister Makhdum Amin Faheem had a very successful visit to India and had very positive discussions there with Indian officials and businessmen.
Relying to a question, he disclosed that Pakistan and India would soon sign a ?Liberal Visa Agreement? for giving maximum relief to the businessmen of both of the countries. He said that the businessmen of Pakistan and Indian have shown very keen interest in strengthening the trade and economic relations between Pakistan and India. He said that both the neighbours would soon enjoy the fruits of the ongoing trade and economic dialogues between the two countries.
Later, talking to the newsmen at SCCI, Sabharwal hoped that the ongoing dialogues between Indian and Pakistan would be fruitful, as they have very effective agenda. He said that both India and Pakistan should resolve all the core issues including the Kashmir dispute by dialogue.
While presenting his address of welcome, President SCCI Naeem Anwar Qureshi said Indian High Commissioner?s visit to SCCI would go a long way in creating better understanding between the business communities of the two neighbouring countries besides helping in creating new areas of commercial interaction to have far-reaching effects on expanding bilateral trade.
Qureshi revealed that both countries need to avoid short-sighted policies, which have resulted in bedevilling their relations in the past and diverting their attention from the gigantic task of eradicating poverty and raising the standard of living of their peoples.
The two countries must recognise that peace between them is a strategic imperative. It may be said that composite dialogue between the two neighbours must continue to build up trust and confidence, establish a strategic restraint regime, develop mutually beneficial cooperation and make progress towards the resolution of disputes and expansion of bilateral and regional trade.
The prospects of increasing trade between the two countries are considerable. It is encouraging that the two countries have recently held successful trade talks, moving a way forward towards progress and prosperity of the two countries.
The SCCI chief was of the view that issue of NTBs and certain restrictions by India outside statutory MFN status does not commensurate to the MFN position and somehow restricts exports from Pakistan especially those of textile items. It is time that India may reconsider its policy of specific tariffs and regulatory duties and give maximum relief to exports from Pakistan, crucially important for enjoying MFN status and enhancing bilateral trade as India can become most attractive and important market for Pakistani goods.
He said that there should be ship cargo service between both countries in order to facilitate interaction between private sectors and making easy the transportation of goods.
Trade between the two countries also suffers due to visa restrictions. It may be proposed that both countries should modify their visa policy and issue multiple visas. It is also recommended that Indian business visa must not be city specific rather business visa for all cities may be issued so that visitors from Pakistan may explore the massive Indian market in totality, he added.
?We hope that things will improve and improve rapidly to open a new era of economic cooperation, friendly relations and trade boost to bring prosperity, happiness and peace to our peoples, he narrated.

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