LAHORE, Sept 25: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has stressed the need for removal of non-tariff barriers and easing of visa restrictions for boosting bilateral trade with India.
LCCI President Shahid Hassan Sheikh said in a statement issued on Tuesday that contrary to its claims the India government was increasing non-tariff barriers and exporting goods to India was still an uphill task even in the presence of the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status.
Non-tariff barriers by Indian government were hampering Indo-Pak bilateral trade as was evident from the 200-page pro forma given to Pakistani cement exporters. It was very difficult to export the commodity to India in the presence of such barriers.
He said that India and Pakistan together had a population of 1.295 billion. Their total international trade was $347.55 billion, out of which the trade between the two countries was only $1.095 billion, which works out to 0.315 per cent of their total international trade.Wile Pakistan’s imports from India through proper channels had increased from $382.2 million to $802 million during the last three years.
He said that Pakistan’s exports to India had increased from $93.8 million to $293.3 million. Pakistan has always experienced a deficit balance of trade with India, which had increased from $288.4 million in 2003-04 to $508.7 million in 2005-06. The deficit would increase manifold if the trade through third countries such as Dubai and Singapore was also taken into account.
He said that while the businessmen of the two countries were interested to gain from the opportunities of trade, an unfriendly visa policy of the two countries preventing the businessmen to visit each other’s countries and negotiate trade deals.
The talks between the commerce secretaries of the two countries in July-August this year in which all the trade barriers were discussed had raised hopes that the bilateral trade could increase to $10 billion in the next three years.