India, Pak keen on new trade regime

India and Pakistan are keen to start new trade regime and minimise non-tariff barriers, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Sohail Lashari said on Saturday.

Lashari, who was leading a trade delegation from Pakistan, was addressing an interactive B2B meet between the Chambers of India and Chambers of Pakistan, organised by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry here on Saturday as part of the ongoing 7th edition of Punjab International Trade Expo (PITEX-2013).

He said the objective of bringing the delegation was to explore new trade avenues between India and Pakistan and see them as routine international trade partners, PHD Chamber said.

“We appreciate and acknowledge the warm response from the industry and trading community in Pakistan,” said Rajiv Bali, Chairman, Punjab Committee, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Naeem Anwar, Minister (Trade), High Commission of Pakistan, appreciated the efforts made by PHD Chamber to foster bilateral ties and mentioned that visits by delegations help multiply these efforts.

“The kind of growth seen in bilateral trade in the last 4 to 5 years could not happen in the last 60 years,” Anwar said.

He said the growth is on the back of the new visa policy for businessmen by virtue of which they are able to get multiple visas for up to 10 cities.

The Pakistan Minister (Trade) suggested making concerted efforts to allow investment from Pakistan in India and vice-versa.

Three reasons, said Anwar, restrict trade between India and Pakistan — restrictions on the movement of businessmen, which could be eased through liberalised visa regime; delays in customs clearance, which could be resolved by keeping a positive mindset towards each other; and lack of product and sector-specific approach, which was necessary to boost the trade volume, he pointed out. Leader of the Gujranwala delegation, Sheikh Rauf, said, “People-to-people contacts between India and Pakistan should be encouraged at all levels and visa restrictions should be relaxed to ease the movement of the trading community.”

The delegation included representation from textiles, fabrics, gems and jewellery, commercial banking and services sector, among others.

Many important issues including the need for a better mobile connectivity to improve communication for business and trade, opening up of banks in each other’s countries, availability of information about standards/certification requirements and formalities for opening offices and trading houses in India were discussed.

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