Lahore, November 06, 2012 (PPI-OT): The Deputy Chief Minister of Indian Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal has urged both the government of Pakistan and India to ease out all issues coming in the way of two-way trade as it is the only way to break barriers.
The Indian Deputy Chief Minister was addressing the businessmen at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar, Senior Vice President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, Vice President Mian Abuzar Shad, former Presidents Mian Mohammad Ashraf, Tariq Hameed, Vice President SAARC Chamber of Commerce Iftikhar Ali Malik, Mian Misbah-ur-Rehman, Mian Anjum Nisar, Mian Muzaffar Ali, Mohammad Ali Mian, Irfan Qaiser Sheikh and Convener LCCI Standing Committee for Pak-India Trade Promotion Aftab Ahmad Vohra also spoke on the occasion. The Leader of the Indian delegation RS Sachdeva gave very valuable suggestions in his brief address.
Sukhbir Sing Badal said, by the year 2013, the Indian Punjab would have surplus electricity and would be more than willing to export to Pakistan. He said that a major portion of electricity is being produced through coal while more than 500 MW from renewable sources like biomass, wheat-straw and Rice-straw. He said that another 500 MW Solar electricity would be added to the national grid in next five years.
He said that electricity for Agriculture is free in Indian Punjab while the industry enjoys a lot of incentives. The bigger ones have more incentives than the middle and the smaller.
The Indian Deputy Chief Minister said that the trade between Pakistan and India could go up to 10 billion dollar from only $ 2 billion in shortest possible time provided both the sides take sector-specific measures. Elaborating the point he said that the distance between Lahore and Amritsar is only of 35 minutes while the goods coming through a third country cost ten times more than that through direct trade.
India is one of the biggest economies in the region and offers innumerable opportunities to Pakistani businessmen. He said that the businessmen must not feel any threat from entrepreneurship of Indians. Rather they should workout strategy to be competitive. He said that Indian Punjab has a big consumer Market that should be captured by the Pakistani businessmen.
Sukhbir Singh Badal said that the banking system between the two sides should be upgraded while student exchange programme needs to be activated in the larger benefit of the people of the two sides.
Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that the non tariff barriers being faced by Pakistani exporters are creating enormous problems. At present, almost equal quantum of trade is going on between Pakistan and India from third destinations like Dubai and Colombo etc. Some kinds of bans are also coming in the way. It increases the cost for nothing in the form of freight, taxes and loss of time.
He stressed the need for special relaxation in order to increase the frequency of trade talks/deals. He called for a win-win start for the greater benefit of all. There are many possibilities which can lead our economies to supplement each other for growth. We need to identify areas of economic cooperation. Joint ventures, out-sourcing and sharing of technology etc. will further pave the way for trade expansion.
He said that at present direct trade volume between Pakistan and India is around US$ 2 billion. We anticipate that trade figures will go as high as US$ 4 to 5 billion in a couple of years. So far as trade potential is concerned, it is estimated to be US$ 10 billion.
He said that we are in the process of making necessary arrangements that will support the trade. Development of banking networks in both the countries is a major progress. Infrastructure development at Wagha border is underway to handle the expected quantum of trade. Other than land route, we also need to fully utilize the rail and sea channels.
Farooq Iftikhar said that Flexible visa regime is the need of the hour. The business community has to wait for many days on both sides of the borders for obtaining visas. Amritsar and Lahore immediately require Consulate Offices of both the countries to process visa applications because it is quite cumbersome for the residents of Central Punjab to access Islamabad and Delhi.
The LCCI President said that tourism is another important area. Both the countries have a tremendous potential of tourism which must be exploited. Other than excellent points for sightseeing, religious tourism also promises great openings to both the nations.
“We believe in trade diplomacy and are of the view that certain forces can converge for better trade relations among us. Peace is vital for long term relations but in the presence of stronger trade relations, any unseen jolts can be endured for greater benefits.
It has been long standing wish of the business community of Pakistan and India that trade should be the focal point while managing the foreign relations with India. I unconditionally offer the services of LCCI to realize this dream.
Lahore by virtue of its geographical location holds key importance. Lahore presents to Indian businessmen a great opportunity to be used as a commercial hub. Indian business community can reach Afghanistan and Central Asian States from here.”
Convener of the LCCI Standing Committee on Pak India Trade Promotion Aftab Ahmad Vohra on the occasion called for establishment of an Industrial Park to overcome the visa issue.
Earlier, the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Punjab Haryana Delhi (PHD) Chamber of Commerce and Industry inked an MOU in the presence of Chief Minister Punjab Mian Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif and Deputy Chief Minister of Indian Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal at Chief Minister House.
For more information, contact:
Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)
Lahore -54000, Pakistan
Tel: +9242 111 222 499
Fax: +92 42 636 8854