KARACHI: A high powered Indian trade delegation of 200 people representing various sectors of the economy will visit Pakistan in February 2012, in pursuance of the initiatives taken by both the countries on public and private sector level to increase bilateral trade.
Indian Commerce Minister will lead this very important delegation under umbrella of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). The delegation will also include some popular figures of Bollywood, said Vice President Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Dawood Usman Jakhura here on Monday.
He was briefing media, at Federation House, about the recent visit of 80-member Pakistan trade delegation to India , led by Federal Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim. Secretary Commerce Zaffar Mehmood, the Chief Executive of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) also accompanied the Minister.
On FPCCI side, President FPCCI Senator Haji Ghulam Ali, Vice Chairman of Confederation of South Asian Chambers of Commerce and former president FPCCI Tariq Sayeed, President India-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and former president FPCCI, S.M. Muneer, Vice President FPCCI Dawood Usman Jakhura, Federal Advisor to Textile Industry Dr. Mirza Ikhtiar Baig besides 60 other FPCCI member industrialists and exporters representing 27 industries including textile, leather, petroleum and energy were on the board.
During the press briefing, S.M. Muneer, two other Vice Presidents of FPCCI Engr. Muhammad Usman Shaikh and S.Khalid Tawab, Dr. Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, who is a textile industrialist and exporter, also spoke.
These business leaders were very optimistic that their visit would help in settling very critical trade issues between Pakistan and India: issuance of multiple visa for Pakistan's bonafide businessmen for at least one year, end to non-tariff barriers for Pakistani goods destined to Indian markets, giving the status of Most Favourite Nation (MFN) to India, implementation of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) wherein Pakistan is to end the negative list except a few classified items.
As outcome of the meetings and deliberations, India agreed to withdraw its objections/reservations filed with WTO on European Union market access and concessions accorded to 75 Pakistan goods.
“This is a big achievement by our delegation,” the senior business leaders maintained adding that this would prove a lever for Pakistan in promoting its exports.
Vice President FPCCI Dawood Usman Jakhura informed that Pakistan and Indian Commerce Ministers had a detailed meeting to discus trade- related wide range of issues/blockades. This was the first meeting of Commerce Ministers of the two countries after a gap of thirty five years.
The delegation had also meaningful meetings with the Chief Ministers of Delhi and Maharashtar, in addition to Indian businessmen especially the FPCCI members.
He said that both the sides were confident that the present bilateral trade of dollars 2.7 billion would be increased to dollars 6 billion per annum in next three years by extending maximum facilitation to trade from each side and by increasing exchange of business information and trade delegations and holding of trade fairs in each other's country.
S.M. Muneer added that this trade could be increased to dollars 10 billion per annum if the visa restrictions for businessmen of both the countries are removed.
President India-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce S.M.Muneer told that Pakistan's Commerce Secretary Zaffar Mehmood is scheduled to visit India on 15th of next month and will hold a follow-up meeting with the Indian Secretary of Commerce to move forward on the above discussed important trade-related issues.
He said Pakistan's business community especially FPCCI fully supported grant of MFN status to India and the Government, he claimed, in principle had decided positively. But, he added, it may be announced later after meeting some requirements.
About the visa, he said both the sides agreed on issuance multiple visa to bonafide businessmen for one year. It was also agreed that there should be no police registration for the businessmen to encourage them to visit frequently.
“Presently, Pakistani businessmen are confined to visit only two or three cities during one trip,” he added. Federal Advisor to Textile Industry and leading industrialist Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig said Pakistan trade delegation also raised the issues of permitting to set up cold storage and warehouses facility in India, and called for strengthening the road-network to facilitate the fast flow of goods.
Indian Government responded positively and the Joint Secretary of Commerce in a statement promised to give maximum facilities and relaxations to increase the bilateral trade.