FAISALABAD

The Indian government is also committed to promote regional cooperation particularly trade with Pakistan by extending more facilities in addition to simplifying the issuance of business visas and removing business related irritants as top priority, said High Commissioner of India in Pakistan Dr T C A Raghavan.

He was addressing the business community of Faisalabad at Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “I am visiting Faisalabad after 9-10 years,” he said and added that during the period, Faisalabad had made tremendous progress.

“I must congratulate you for this achievement. I was in Delhi when Prime Minister of Pakistan Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had a meeting with Indian prime minister. I was extremely happy to see them at one platform,” he said and quoted a historic saying that ‘we could choose our friends but not neighbors’.

He said, “Our region is facing multiple challenges due to lack of education and economic development. People are deprived of education and other basic and fundamental facilities. Terrorism has also hampered the regional progress and we strongly condemn recent act of terrorism in Karachi that is a major setback to the regional peace and stability.”

He added, “Last year, our trade increased from US$ 2.5 to US$ 3.0 billion and we are specially endeavoring to increase trade between the two countries. We have already simplified the procedure. For which, more facilities would also be extended for multiple entry visa and multiple city visa.”

He said that new land routes would also be opened to increase trade in addition to increasing trading hours at Wagha Atari border. “We are also considering a proposal to facilitate business people to meet each other on these points frequently and freely. A workshop on visa related issues would be arranged in Faisalabad after Ramazan,” he said.

He said, “We have signed three agreements on custom cooperation, mutual recognition of standards and addressing trade grievances.”

Regarding customs related issues, he asked the FCCI members to give him details of irritants as a customs coordination meeting was expected to be held during next week in Lahore. He pledged that a representative of Indian High Commission will also participate in the meeting to resolve the customs-related issues.

Earlier in his welcome address, FCCI President Engr Suhail Bin Rashid said that the volume of bilateral trade between Pakistan and India is around US$ 2.59 billion and figure will go as high as US$ 4 to 5 billion in a couple of years against the potential of US$ 10 billion. During the year 2013, our total export to India was US$ 379.16 million whereas total imports from India stood at US$ 2.18 billion. With little exception, the trade trend is continuously in favour of India, he said.

He said that there is a greater scope for joint ventures between India and Pakistan particularly in the area of high technology, medicine, textile, agriculture, telecommunication, chemicals, automobiles and education. Both the countries have similar business trends in textile and cooperation in the textile sector will create a win-win situation for both the leading cotton growers and textile manufacturers in the world.

He said that frequent exchange of delegations between Pakistan and India will help meet the objective of increasing trade and enhancing economic relations. The Indian companies can also participate in many development projects in Pakistan especially in the sector of power generation, infrastructure like mass transit program in various big cities of Pakistan, railways, electronics, information technology and food processing especially of preservation of fruits and vegetables, he said.

Economic cooperation in other areas such as sub-contracting by Indian IT firms to Pakistani companies, tourist packages, collaboration in higher education, agriculture, health, research and development between the two countries could also prove beneficial for the both countries, he noted.