LAHORE: The road to normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan can only be accessed through trade and the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) can play a critical role in this regard, says the Indian envoy.
Talking to LCCI Senior Vice President Almas Hyder and other businessmen at the chamber on Wednesday, Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale stressed that there was no better way of improving bilateral relations than mutually beneficial economic ties.
Long-term strategy for Pakistan-India relations
He revealed that the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry intended to organise a trade show in collaboration with the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) at the Expo Centre Lahore. The Lahore Chamber should be an active part of this mega event, he suggested.
The high commissioner said the Indian government had recently introduced multiple visas for three years exclusively for businessmen. These include visits to 15 Indian cities with exemption from police reporting. Moreover, the businessmen can travel to India by road and return via air.
LCCI Senior Vice President Almas Hyder said traders of both countries were facing various obstacles that were hampering trade and economic activities between the two sides. He expressed the hope that bilateral trade would get a considerable boost in coming years.
Hyder suggested that regular exchange of delegations would greatly impact normalisation of trade and economic relations between the two countries.
“In fact, we are in favour of regional trade and gearing up for fair competition with India. The potential gains from increased economic integration are large whereas trade between the two countries is unnaturally small.”
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Hyder was of the view that opening of trade with India would present countless opportunities to both the countries as currently non-tariff barriers being faced by Pakistani exporters were creating enormous problems.
He asked both countries to find ways to cut down the number of non-tariff hurdles because one or two bad experiences were pushing the exporters to change their mind.
He proposed that Pakistan and India should open consulate offices in Amritsar and Lahore for speeding up the process of visa endorsement. This way, the business community belonging to these cities will not have to travel to their respective capital cities for visa which is a loss of time and effort.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2016.