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18/11/2013 10:18pm

Pak businessmen seek easy visa from India

image Pak businessmen seek easy visa from India
New Delhi, Nov 18 (KNN) In order to improve trade relations between India and Pakistan, the Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has suggested that positive change of attitude and some polices like easy visa regimes, lower duty, etc can benefit both sides.

The bilateral trade between India and Pakistan is currently at a modest USD 2.6 billion annually.

But, the chambers from both sides are hopeful to raise it to USD 7-8 billion by next year. 

Speaking on the strict visa regimes between the two countries, President of FPCCI, Zubair Ahmed Malik told KNN, “Visa is a very major problem. Two of the delegations from India are expecting clearance from the Pakistan side. Likewise, 2-3 of the Pakistani delegations are expecting clearance from the Indian side.”

“Our policies are basically reactive policies...We have to liberalize the visa regime; only then can trade flourish between the two countries,” Malik added.

Some progress has indeed been made, but its peanuts, he said.

The businesses from both sides of the border have been pushing for creating a ‘zero trade zone’ at the Wagah-Attari border, which would not require visa, for trade related transactions. But the interactions have not made much progress.

“I think it’s a very good idea but Zero trade point is not possible.  I think 0-5 per cent is normal and that is what is given in the SAFTA agreement as well. This should be done not only at the Wagah-Attari border, but also with SAARC nations,” Malik said.

Some of the chambers from Pakistan have been demanding India to lower the import duty on textiles imported from Pakistan. Textile is a major industry in Pakistan for which it seeks market from India.

Under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreements both countries are committed to bringing down import duties on 98 per cent of items traded to five per cent or less.
“The duty structure is very high in India.  I think, it should be lowered, like wise if India has some problems regarding the duties, the government (Pakistan) should look,” he said.

Last year, Pakistan switched over to a 'negative list' trade regime with India - instead of specifying items that could be traded, it set a list of those which could not, thus allowing trade in everything else.

“I think there has to be a positive change of attitude, nothing else. It is something which is only in the minds. We have to learn that we are neighbours. We cannot exchange our neighbours and for that our attitude should be positive, among both the Indians and the Pakistanis,” Malik said. (KNN/SD)

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