Seeking to create history and further consolidate people to people exchange, the Indian Government and the industry have joined hands to put up a massive “India Show’’ at Lahore which will be unveiled on Saturday, kicking off a new phase in trade and economic engagement of India and Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Commerce Minister, Makhdoom Amin Fahim will inaugurate the three-day India Show on Saturday at Lahore Expo Centre. The show is being organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in collaboration with Indian Commerce and Industry Ministry with support from Pakistan’s Commerce Ministry and Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Nearly 150 Indian companies will showcase their products during this India Show and it is expected that business deals could also be finalised.

In another first, it will be the first bilateral visit by an Indian Commerce and Industry Minister to Pakistan. Commerce and Minister Anand Sharma will walk into the Pakistan territory through the Attari-Wagah border on February 13 to take part in the India Show celebrations and also hold bilateral talks with Mr. Fahim to discuss ways and means to increase the trade between the two nations, remove restrictions on trade and movement of people and put in place a liberal visa regime to enable more people to people exchange.

Mr. Sharma will be accompanied by an 80-member strong business and official delegation that will visit Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad to interact with Pakistani CEOs and officials. ``Amount of interest for this historic visit is huge. Large SMEs are also part of the delegation. Both the countries are going to gain from this visit. It also our desire that the visa regime from both sides, at least for businessmen, should be liberalised removing all restrictions on their movement,’’ FICCI president R.V. Kanoria told journalists here.

The main objective of the three-day visit is to put in place mechanisms in an attempt to normalise trade ties between the countries. "I have no doubt in my mind that bilateral trade which currently stands at about $2.7 billion can be raised to $10 billion by 2015 if trade through third countries -- Dubai, Singapore and Central Asian countries -- is channelised into direct exchanges between the countries,’’ Mr. Kanoria said.

Third country trade between India and Pakistan is at present reckoned at around $10 billion. At present, Pakistan now maintains a positive list of 1938 items which can officially importable from India. On the other hand, India has extended the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan and does not impose equivalent formal restrictions on exports or imports from Pakistan.

Indian industry would like the Pakistan Government to adopt the negative list approach at the earliest and subsequently grant MFN status to India. From February, 2012, Pakistan would shift to the negative list of few items, which it would not import from India. By the end of 2012, it has agreed, the negative list itself should be removed.

Mr. Kanoria said India-Pakistan trade would ensure cheaper raw materials and low transportation which would translate into quality goods at competitive prices for both the countries. There is a large potential of trade in services, especially Indian export services like IT and IT enabled services, medical, construction and tourism.

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