M A I N   N E W S

India means business in Pak
Anand Sharma to cross Wagah today, a first by Indian Commerce Minister in 30 yrs
Vibha Sharma/TNS

New Delhi, February 12
Starting Monday, an Indian business delegation led by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma will be taking part in a series of high-end events, including an “India Show”, in Pakistan amid expectations that the neighbouring country will make an announcement granting the much-awaited Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India.

Co-hosted by the two leading Indian business chambers, the event will mark the first visit of an Indian trade minister to Pakistan in 30 years in an exercise aimed at ramping up bilateral trade to $10 billion in three years.

The delegation comprises over 100 top names from India's corporate world. It includes Rajan Bharti Mittal, vice chairman and managing director, Bharti Enterprises; Sunil Kant Munjal, chairman, Hero Corporate Services; KK Modi, chairman, Modi Enterprises; Harsh Pati Singhania, managing director, JK Paper; Naresh Goyal, chairman, Jet Airways; Jyotsna Suri, chairperson and managing director, Bharat Hotels; Arun Nanda, chairman, Mahindra Holidays and Resorts, FICCI president RV Kanoria and CII president B. Muthuraman . Sharma will also be meeting top officials of Pakistan, including Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim.

According to an official statement, the ministerial dialogue will cover a wide range of issues, including the steps taken by Pakistan for grant of MFN status to India, progress made on strengthening of infrastructure for cargo movement on the land route, Customs cooperation and mutual conformity of standards and mechansim to redress grievances. The investment policy, which currently prohibits Pakistan investments in India, is also expected to be discussed.

As per the mutually agreed roadmap, Pakistan is committed to shifting its trade regime with India from the Positive List (PL) to Negative List (NL), thereby allowing multi-fold increase in access to Indian goods in the Pakistani market.

Pakistan has maintained a positive list of 1938 items (vide import policy order of Pakistan 2008) which were officially importable from India. On the other hand, India does not impose equivalent formal restrictions on exports to or imports from Pakistan.

"There is every reason for us to believe that there is an expressed wish and desire on part of Pakistan... to move to the (negative list) regime which deepens and diversifies trade and enhances economic engagements," Sharma said.

Sharma reached Amritsar along with FICCI chief Kanoria and SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Vikramjit Singh Sahney. “I am going to Pakistan with the positive frame of mind. The focus would be on strengthening the trade ties,” he told reporters after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple. The minister would also inspect the integrated checkpost project at Wagah.

Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan is limited to a list of 1938 items and a large number 
of these items are confined to minerals, chemicals and other raw materials while most of the manufactured finished goods, bulk drugs and pharmaceuticals, textile products and food products are banned.

Industry is also demanding opening up of additional land routes and easing visa regulations for businessmen.

According to Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the advantage of land contiguity and low transaction cost for bilateral trade is lost due to limited trade land routes. It is suggesting opening up of additional land route at Sindh border of Monabao-Khokhara Par in addition to the opening up of second gate at Attari-Wagah border. (With inputs from PK Jaiswar in Amritsar)





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