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Pakistan for relaxing visa regime, greater market access to boost trade

Thursday, 16 January 2014 - 9:31pm IST Updated: Thursday, 16 January 2014 - 9:42pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

Pakistan on Thursday made a strong case for relaxing visa regime, improving mobile connectivity and according non-discriminatory market access to boost trade and business ties with India.

"Barriers to bilateral trade must be removed. Besides, tariff...lack of adequate connectivity and transportation; issues of standards; customs harmonisation, communications, visa facilitation, payment mechanisms, dispute resolution among others are needed to be addressed," Pakistan Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastagir Khan said.

In his address at a CII function, he said it is important to relax visa regime to facilitate movement of business travellers.

On the contentious issue of Pakistan according the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India, Khan said that "regarding the 'M' word, let us just say that we have shifted it one letter down to 'N' and now we are discussing 'Non-Discriminatory Access'.

"The idea of course is (that) instead of getting caught or rather stranded in nomenclature, we should work sincerely towards proving substantial market access to each other whatever nomenclature we use," he said.

Referring to the issue of mobile connectivity and banking issues, Khan said: "Both the countries should have these kinds of connectivities, which facilitate trade and investment." Khan, who is leading a delegation of 70 businessmen, said that efforts were on to enhance two-way trade through the Wagha border.

"An enhancement of trade through Wagha is under active negotiation at this moment. We are hoping to have a positive (outcome) on that," he added.

Khan said Pakistan believes in forging good neighbourly relations, ensuring stable and friendly environment as well as seeking a multiplier effect whereby each other's strength to grow and prosper together is reinforced.

Emphasising greater need for trade between the two nations, he said, anti-India slogan was not part of election campaign in 2013.

"This is an opportunity we should not let go," he added.

On import of textile machinery, the Minister said that it can be looked at but for import of agriculture products there are issue of disparity of subsidy.

Khan also expressed the view that both sides need to encourage maximum exchange of delegations and person-to-person meetings to enhance business opportunities and creating complementaries for collaboration of value-chains of various sectors.

Pakistan is hosting Made in India exhibition in mid- February in Lahore. It is also planning to hold 2nd edition of ‘Life Style Pakistan’ exhibition in India.

Before leaving for India, the minister told PTI in Islamabad: "The State Bank of Pakistan has just written to the RBI that three banks would like to open their branches in India. I don't know when but it will happen. Some movement has taken place."

Overall, India-Pakistan trade is worth USD 3 billion and the industry wants that all efforts should be made to increase it to USD 10 billion in the next three years.


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