Dec 24 - 30, 20

Rafeeque Ahmed Mecca President Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO)said that balance of trade is favourable for the Indian side with USD 1.54 billion exports, and imports at USD 400 million, however India desires to balance the two way trade by increasing imports from Pakistan.

He said that India-Pakistan bilateral trade for the year 2011-12 is estimated to the tune of USD two billion. The recent official figure between April - October, 2012 places exports at USD 834 million exhibiting a growth of about 1% while imports during the same period increased to USD 333 million showing a jump of 42% from the corresponding period in 2011. We are looking forward for narrowing trade deficit with Pakistan. He said, We are equally eager to increase our imports for that healthy balance of trade result in win-win situation for both the countries.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of India Expo 2012 last week, he observed that to enhance Indo-Pak bilateral trade, India Expo 2012 is only beginning of a long journey between FIEO and KCCI and he would like to reciprocate to their nice gesture by extending similar privilege to them in India. He apprised that FIEO is an apex trade promotion body set up by Ministry of Commerce to promote International trade having more than 14 offices in India and organizes more than 50 international exhibitions across the globe. FIEO board comprises Export Promotion Councils and Commodity Boards and represents in various committees of the Government in their decision making.

President FIEO stressed upon the need to diversify the trade from both the sides. India's exports to Pakistan comprise 8-9 major products which contribute approximately 90% of the total export. The main products exported from India to Pakistan are polymers, industrial chemicals, machinery, polyester fabric and yarn. Capital goods are the strength of India, and Pakistan is importing it from other countries, India should exploit this opportunity. Most of the items in India are expensive in comparison to Pakistan so cheaper items can be sourced from Pakistan to avoid expensive imports from other countries. Both countries should try and explore to create synergies and not get overly competitive. He highlighted that the infrastructure issues are hindering the growth of the trade between the two countries. The land route is most competitive as carrying a container through Wagah cost US$ 391 while the same through Mumbai-Dubai-Karachi cost over US$ 1000. We need to provide better infrastructure to facilitate trade through the closest route, he told. He opined that multiple city and multiple entry Visa regime will be introduced from January, 2013 which will be a big boost for bilateral trade. We would require presence of local banks on both the sides to give requisite confidence to importers/exporters. I will take this opportunity to request the concerned agencies to expedite the process of opening of branches of Pakistan Banks in India and Indian Banks in Pakistan, he said. He conversed that it was quite ironical that all South East Asian economies were striking FTAs with nations across Pacific and Atlantic but not amongst themselves. Improved bilateral ties between India and Pakistan will give the necessary oxygen to South Asia Free Trade Zone which will open vistas of opportunities for countries of the Region, he concluded.

Ajay Sahai, Director General & CEO of FIEO suggested that India and Pakistan should give preference to companies in each other's countries for exports and imports if products can be supplied at competitive prices. For example sugar can be exported from Pakistan to India which would help in softening sugar prices in the country while petroleum exporters from India could reduce the price of petroleum products in Pakistan by USD 14 per barrel giving a saving close to USD 2 billion for its economy.

Inaugurating the India Expo 2012 here this morning, Siraj Kassam Teli, Chairman Businessmen Group and former President KCCI asserting upon the need to create new Indo-Pak trade synergies for economic integration stated that once Indo-Pak business executes in real sense, both countries would be not dependent on other countries for economic cooperation. Indo-Pak trade nexus will also activate intra-SAARC trade. He said that during last one decades business communities of two countries have learned a lot and like to improve trade relations. He was of the view that political relations should not affect the positive business developments between business communities of two countries, positive developments should not slow down and businesses should not suffer. He hoped that the Indo-Pak business communities would fairly and sincerely entertain each other. He observed that pace of economic growth in South Asia was slow and intra-regional trade in SAARC block was very nominal as compared to ASEAN and EU. He said that some business friends may have apprehensions on Indo-Pak trade however, he personally feel Indo-Pak bilateral trade will benefit Pakistan. Increased Indo-Pak private sector business integration is imperative to remove apprehensions and bureaucratic hurdles. He also emphasized to officially channelize the trade between two countries in practice from Dubai and elsewhere.

Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry's President Muhammad Haroon Agar in his welcome address highlighted that KCCI is a flag-bearer of Pakistan in front of the global business hemisphere. In pursuit of excellence since 1959, this prestigious Chamber of Pakistan has left no stones unturned to promote trade and industry under its visionary leadership. He paid tribute to the business community of two countries to support their respective governments in the recent developments to liberalize Indo-Pak bilateral trade. He hoped signing of MOU between KCCI and FIEO will prove milestone for mutual cooperation and facilitation to business community of both countries. He informed that he has planned to allocate one complete hall for Indian Pavilion in 10th My-Karachi Exhibition scheduled to be organized from 5th to 7th July, 2013. He said that KCCI also intend to organize one exhibition of products made in Pakistan in India during first quarter of 2013.

Tariq Huda, Director General TDAP, also exchanged views on this occasion. Vice Chairman BMG & former President KCCI Anjum Nisar, former Presidents KCCI Majyd Aziz, Khalid Feroz, Mian Abrar Ahmad, Senior Vice President Shamim Firpo, Vice President Nasir Mehmood, Chairman International Affairs KCCI Junaid Makda, Sunil Agnihotri, Jt Dy Director General FIEO, Prashant Seth Dy Director FIEO, Diplomats from Thailand and Vietnam and a large number of businessmen attended the inauguration ceremony and visited Indian stalls. Ecommerce Gateway Pakistan was appointed as the official event manager by Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO). Official Event Manager Ecommerce Gateway Pakistan President Dr Khursheed Nizam, in the presence of Presidents of KCCI & FIEO, in recognition of relentless efforts to promote trade particularly with India, presented the title and crest "Ambassador of Trade with India" to Siraj Kassam Teli, Chairman Businessmen Group which was seconded by all the dignitaries present.