Karachi: In his welcome address to Anand Sharma, Minister for Commerce, Industry and Textile, Government of India, Mian Abrar Ahmad focused to end the animosity between the two countries. He strongly urged to develop air and sea links between Mumbai and Karachi – the two sister port cities and operationalized the Bombay-Karachi Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He articulated to build trading blocs with SAARC countries, Central Asian Republics, particularly with India and China. He paid tributes to the Indo-Pak Business Communities who played a vital role to lower down the political tensions between the two countries and melted the cold ice and supported their respective governments for “Confidence Building Measures”.
The Business Communities of both Nations continuously endeavour to improve relations while increasing trade and economic cooperation between two countries. President KCCI said that soon after independence, India and Pakistan established diplomatic relations and started bilateral trade. In the light of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which now replaced by WTO, both countries have to accord MFN status to each other.
Both countries enjoyed MFN status before year 1965 and trade was in favour of Pakistan. He said that “at Karachi Chamber, we believe that South Asia is now standing at the threshold of peace and prosperity because India and Pakistan have taken serious practical measures and shown greater political determination to develop shared economic relations to foster the process of regional economic cooperation.
In the wake of changed global economic scenario, the leading players of South Asia – India and Pakistan have also changed their mindset not to forgo the economic benefits in the larger interest of poor masses in the region, he told. He said that granting MFN status to India need to be realized as economic obligation instead of political framework and India should come forward with open mind and to promote bilateral investment to further deepen the economic relations.” He also expressed profound gratitude to the Government of India to support Pakistan in the EU to accomplish GSP Plus.
Chairman Businessmen Group Siraj Kassam Teli in his speech conveyed gratitude and compliments to Anand Sharma, Minister for Commerce and regards to the business delegates from India. He welcomed the statement of the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh for his vision to transform South Asia with the cooperation of all the neighbouring countries including Pakistan, to alleviate poverty and bring prosperity in the region.
He stated that the Indo-Pak Business Community has a common resolve that is to “Expand bilateral trade between the two Nations as well as the region”. He said, “The Business communities on both sides firmly believe that improving economic ties may help to resolve the larger political issues that obstruct friendly and cordial relations.
Successive Indian and Pakistani governments have often negotiated for peaceful relations but reaching a comprehensive agreement to settle disputes somehow, alluded us, therefore I urge upon both the governments to make a commitment to the business and industrial communities of both the countries that whatever has been achieved will not be undone in the event of disruption of the ongoing dialogues and the communication channels will be left open and businesses will not be allowed to suffer.”
He was of the view that the time has come to redefine the priorities as economics is name of the game nowadays which takes precedence to politics. He said, “we at Karachi Chamber believe that the government of both the countries after a span of 64 years are moving in the right direction by taking the business communities of both the countries along, will help ultimately to enter a new phase of full normalization of bilateral trade relations, which would also build bridges of friendship and trust for mutual benefits, ultimately resolve other issues.”
He also requested the Government of Pakistan to reciprocate the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India without further delay. He said, “as this was our point of view eight years back when I led the first delegation to India when I was the President of Karachi Chamber in 2004, the report which was submitted to the government at that time has been distributed here for reference and since both India and Pakistan are signatories to WTO, have a commitment of non discrimination among the member countries.”
Chairman Sindh Board of Investment and former President KCCI Muhammad Zubair Motiwala proposed five points which he opined, if implemented would act as cornerstone for development of bilateral trade. He proposed that the travelling between India and Pakistan should be made easy and the business communities of two sides be given multiple visas for multiple cities.
He said that the Indo Pak trade may be done in rupees (India and Pak Rupees) rather than dollars. Powers to issue visa stickers on the pattern of SAARC to the Managing Committee and Corporate Class of Bombay Chamber and Karachi Chamber be allowed. He voiced to remove Non-Tariff Barriers and introduce Mediation Committees in Bombay and Karachi Chambers to address the grievances of importers and exporters of two countries.
He said that sea-link should be started initially small vessels be allowed to operate between the ports of Karachi and Indian ports of Mumbai, Porbunder, Mundra etc. He also asserted that besides exchanges of arts, culture, there must be frequent exchanges of businesspersons from two sides. He also gave brief presentation on the investment opportunities in the Sindh province.
Anand Sharma, Minister for Commerce, Industry and Textiles of India while speaking on the occasion, stated that the trade is imperative for bilateral relations and way to address all matters of economic engagements. Hopefully, the banking and services sector will start soon. He said that there were opportunities as well as challenges and both sides were serious to mobilize economic activities.
He voiced that India and Pakistan had elevated relations to the higher level and both Nations had several similarities. He said two countries don’t need interpreters due to commonality in language, cultures and traditions. He hoped that the barriers would be addressed in short time and in this 21st century, two sides assure and have the will and wisdom to overcome and write new essays of trust and friendship.
He informed that he came to Pakistan with an open mind and heart and last year Indo-Pak relations turned a new page to strengthen relations when Commerce Secretaries and Ministers met and both sides are proceeding positively with a desire to work closely together and facilitate more economic engagements.
He said both countries were rich in agriculture, textiles, cotton and had many strengths. India was provided in the region low cost but quality health facilities and medicines. He urged to increase people to people contacts as two sides had common music, art and culture. Number of Pakistanis visit India for medical treatment and medical tourism was active, he said.
He informed that he would meet his counterpart and other Pak Government dignitaries it was assured to move from positive to small negative list which would be a very positive message. As per WTO charter every member country has to give MFN to other member, so with the grant of MFN, the negative list will also dismantle. With increased Indo-Pak trade the old trade route to Central Asian States would also revive, he opined.
He informed that both countries reached an understanding on visa liberalization and drafts were exchanged and vetted and multiple visa regime will be a reality and going to happen soon. He said that the Business communities on both sides may have the business visas through recommendations of Chambers of both countries which would be accorded consideration by High Commissioners of two countries.
He said that today, regional economic has become a reality and economic and political policy shifts were taking place around the globe. Indian and China had difference but both were largest trading partners so why not Pakistan and India may become the largest regional trading partners. He said that he was carrying back to India happy feelings. Prosperity can come with clarity, will and vision.
Integral to that would be concrete enabling environment where peace and stability is assured, he maintained. Minister on behalf of Indian Government and people conveyed that they wish to write new chapter in engagement of Pakistan to bridge together while building more trust and friendship.
For more information, contact:
M. Shafiq Baig
Public Relations Officer
Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI)
Tel: +9221 9921 8001 -09
Fax: +9221 9921 8010
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