Pakistan and India are likely to negotiate issuance
of country-wide visa instead of the present practice of issuing
city-specific visas to each other's citizens at a meeting scheduled to
be held later this month.
This was stated by Rajesh Gordhandas Kapadia,
leader of a visiting delegation of Indian Merchants Chamber, while
speaking to the members of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry
LCCI President Mian Misbahur Rehman, Senior Vice
President Sohail Lashari and Vice President Sheikh Mohammad Arshad
also spoke on the occasion.
Rajesh Gordhandas said that they were informed by
the high commissioner of India during their visit to Islamabad that a
proposal to give visa for long period to businessmen of each other's
country would also be discussed. He said that there should be more
interaction between the businessmen of both the countries to improve
the bilateral trade. He said that difficulties still exist between the
two countries at various levels - political, business and social
fronts. "Being businessmen we want to concentrate on trade alone
and let the other problems be taken care of by those already holding
dialogue at government level," he added.
Rajesh said that we should continue efforts of
improving the bilateral trade. He said that it was also expected that
two banks from each side would soon be granted permission to work
across the border. He said in order to stem the apprehensions of their
Pakistani counterparts they want 100 per cent buyback agreements,
adding that once the 100 per cent buyback agreements are initiated,
there would be no danger to the economy of any country, either it is
Pakistan or India.
Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Mian
Misbahur Rehman said that Pakistan and India have tremendous potential
for bilateral trade but the trade between the two countries has
remained captive to the existing atmosphere of suspicion and distrust.
We believe that the major breakthrough in bilateral trade would come
after SAFTA becomes functional from January 2006 and the political
issues between the two countries are resolved on the principles of
justice and equity. He said after independence, India was Pakistan's
most important trading partner. In 1948-49, 56 percent of Pakistan's
total exports were directed to the Indian market, and 32 percent of
its imports came from India. Lahore and Amritsar were important
economic hubs, as trade flourished with a free flow of goods and
services. However, by the early 1950s trade between the two countries
reduced to a very small level and has not revived then since.
The LCCI President said the strategic location of
Pakistan and India is recognized as an ideal one in the world. The
enhanced business and trade ties between the adjacent states can help
end poverty in this region. It will not only give them prominence but
also provide leverage to play a global role. We are of the view that
increasing trade and economic cooperation between the two countries is
of crucial significance in South Asia. He said the trade between India
and Pakistan has been at the dismal level and has averaged around US$
284.14 million over the past 5 years. Pakistan's trade with India was
hardly 0.30% of its total trade during 2003-04. It is very interesting
to note that while the imports from India increased from US$ 127.4
million in 1999-00 to US$ 382.6 million in 2003-04 i.e. by 200%, the
exports of Pakistan to India increased by 75% only from US$ 93.7
million during 2003-04. Pakistan has always experienced a deficit
balance of trade with India. The deficit would increase manifold if
the trade through third countries such as Dubai and Singapore are
taken into account.
Mian Misbah said that apart from traditional trade,
there are also tremendous opportunities of cooperation in medicines
and health sector, where India can help Pakistan in setting up
international level health centres. Both India and Pakistan are
agricultural economies. The agro-based and fruit processing sectors in
both the countries are at different stages of development. There is
ample room in this sector with bright prospects of development in
Pakistan. We could also share our experience in post harvest
technology to take advantage of crops going waste at present. He said
Indian companies can come forward by entering into joint ventures in
the fields of software development, telecommunication, information
technology, computer engineering, bio-technology, light engineering,
foundry machinery items, metallurgy, precious and semi precious
gemstones and petrochemicals. Joint ventures will increase interest in
each other's countries and provide opportunity to utilize potentials
available in India and Pakistan.
BRITANNIA-WISE, HERITAGE CONSULTING SIGN ACCORD
The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)
plans to set up institute of excellence to promote higher education
and skill development in the country.
"We are already running two institutions to
fulfill our social obligations - namely, Shalimar Hospital and the
other Lahore Businessmen Association for Rehabilitation of Disabled (LABARD),"
said LCCI Senior Vice-President, Sohail Ahmad Lashari while speaking
at a MoU signing ceremony.
The agreement was inked between a British
consultancy firm 'Britannia-Wise Group UK' with a Pakistani entity
'Heritage Consulting' to help and support the local community,
especially students and business persons, for their socio-economic and
professional development. Under the agreement Britannia-Wise Group in
collaboration with Heritage Consulting will set up 14 Britannia
Resource Centers throughout Pakistan during next few months to extend
support services like facilitating promising students to get
admissions in international colleges and universities, helping local
businessmen to collaborate with UK business community for promotion of
mutual business, immigration and visa services, professional training,
skills development and placement.
Welcoming the agreement, the LCCI SVP, Sohail
Lashari, said that it was the need of the hour that we should go for
skill development and higher education if we want to cope with the
fast changing world of today. He said that the LCCI wanted to set up a
higher education institution as good as LUMS which ultimately go for
scholarships and job placement.
Giving a presentation on this occasion, Director
International Development Britannia-Wise Group, Imran Mehdi said that
they were already operating in nine countries in the fields of
education, business and a range of others. He said that they would be
opening 14 Britannia Resource Centers in Pakistan including one in
Lahore, which would be operative by the end of current month and two
in Karachi. He said that this would be first of its kind of service in
which Pakistani people would be helped by the experts of those
countries where they need help.
For example, he added, if a member of this center
in Pakistan wanted a service in UK or Canada or anywhere in the world,
where Britannia Wise group has its network, that service would be
provided by the experts of that country.
Chief Executive Heritage Consulting, Khawaja Asghar
Rafiq, in his brief remarks, said that BRCs would provide equal
opportunity to the students, professionals, businesspersons, corporate
sector and medical and general visitors to step forward and secure
their future irrespective of their geographical location.