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Karnataka entrepreneurs call for FTAs between India and Pakistan

Bengaluru, Mar 24 (KNN)  India and Pakistan need to make trade agreements, similar to those between other neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and China to foster effective and mutually beneficial trade ties, said past president, FISME, Mohan Suresh.
However, he cautioned the two countries about being misled by bigger and more powerful countries that could jeopardize the relationship.
Suresh was speaking at an interaction between a visiting Pakistani delegation comprising of various chambers of commerce and Indian SME bodies held here on Friday.
Significantly, according to Senior Zonal Manager, NSIC, Ravi Kumar, NSIC had signed MOUs with nearly 30 countries and was open to doing the same with Pakistan too once the two countries conclude signing of a FTA (free trade agreement). He hoped that India and Pakistan will move swiftly towards signing a FTA in the light of India’s experience with Bangladesh which had, consequent to entering into a FTA with us, was today giving stiff competition to India. He also expressed an interest to plan a delegation to Pakistan in the near future.
Making a strong case for opening up Indo-Pak trade, Chairman, SME Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Rehmatullah Javed, said the volume of trade could shoot up from USD 2 bn to USD 10 bn if both countries bestowed MFN (most favored nation) status on each other.
He appealed to the industry in India to mobilize support for extending MFN status to Pakistan adding that Nawaz Sharif, the PM of Pakistan was a great friend of India. “When trade can happen with other countries, why not between neighbours?” he asked, calling for a friendlier attitude to visa restrictions, mobile communication restrictions, to create a level playing field.
On the other hand, Chairman, International Affairs, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Junaid Makda, wanted India to expedite customs clearance in Indian ports as these delays were hurting both Pakistani exporters as well as Indian importers. He suggested that bilateral trade between the two countries could be improved by building export houses and facilitating trade in the border areas such as Wagah and Attari.
While Member, Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Asma Rashid, invited the Indian entrepreneurs to participate in an upcoming Expo being organized by IWCCI, Chairman, All Pakistan Furniture Makers Association, Ali Ansar, said strengthening trade between India and Pakistan can work like an effective confidence building measure to help resolve each other’s intractable problems.
“We can’t change our neighbors and so we necessarily have to be a part of each other’s happiness and suffering,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vice-Chairman, Pakistan Electric Fan Manufacturers Association, Ghyas-ud-Din Paul, said the industry bodies can nudge the two countries to move towards policies where both citizens from across the border can move freely without any visa. “There should be export zones dedicated to Indo-Pak trade and Pakistani currency should also be accepted in India, to strengthen the bonds,” he said.
Also speaking on the occasion, President, KASSIA, B P Shashidhar said the small scale industry in both India and Pakistan has been functioning robustly despite the common hurdles they faced.
Pakistan’s products have a market in at least 90 countries of the world, and they were market leaders in several products such as rugs, carpets, brass ware, handicrafts, textiles, jewelry, embroidery, ceramics, sports goods, and surgical instruments, he said.
On the MSME sector in Karnataka, Shashidhar said that 40 per cent of the sector’s contribution is exported to 80 countries of the world comprising a whole range of engineering items, machinery, aeronautic and defense, electronic items including IT services, processed foods, textiles and garments, leather goods, jewelry, handicrafts, toys, plastic and ceramic products, and pharma drugs, in addition to sharing of expertise in turnkey projects and joint ventures in developing countries.
The seminar on trade opportunities between India and Pakistan was jointly organized by the Federation of Indian Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (FISME) and Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association (KASSIA).
The Pakistan side comprised of a 16-member industry delegation with representatives from Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Lahore Chamber of Commerce, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce, Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and All Pakistan Furniture Makers Association took part in the seminar.
The delegation represented industrialists from various sectors like auto parts, yarn, textiles, chemicals, CNG, insulating material, furniture, household appliances, hosiery, electrical goods, electronic appliances, ladies shoes, purses, handicrafts, batteries etc.
The seminar was supported by SAARC TPN Project, Nepal (GIZ).