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Free trade Pakistanis have nothing to fear, say Indians

LAHORE- Pakistan`s business community should not have apprehensions that free trade between Pakistan and India under the most-favoured nation status would adversely affect their businesses in their home country.

This was stated by Rahul Bajaj, Chairman, Bajaj Auto Limited, a leading Indian auto company, while talking to media at the concluding session of a two-day IndiaPakistan Economic Conference here on Tuesday.

He further said that when India opened its business corridors to various western countries in 1991, many businessmen in India were of the view that it would hit their business activities, but after some time, they realised that their apprehensions were unfounded as free trade with other countries helped them promote their businesses on a vast scale under innovative business approaches and methods.

Rahul Bajaj said, `actually `inefficient` business people everywhere make such hue and cry whenever states across the world start taking such important decisions by opening business corridors freely for each other for their better economic interests.

`Why people of the two countries should suffer from such incompetent business persons who lack ability to manufacture and provide quality goods to their people on cheaper rates,` Mr Bajaj said, adding Pakistani and Indian governments should sittogether and remove such business concerns, if any, before initiating free trade activities.

He said though he had already thought of taking business initiative to manufacture good quality motorcycles for the people of Pakistan through a joint venture with a renowned Pakistani business group in 2005, the then political and security situation, visa problems and country`s business policies didn`t allow him to do so, but now I can have a great opportunity to do this freely in Pakistan.

Another Indian businessman and Chairman of Godrej Group, Mr Adi Godrej, said Pakistani and Indian business communities should first focus on how to carry out trade activities at maximum rather than presuming about any damage to their businesses.

`Though there were ups and downs in our businesses in India for a very short period when we opened free trade with various countries in the past, the situation soon became normal and gave a massive boost to our economy,` he said, adding, Indians today are making huge investments in various sectors in many countries.

He invited Pakistani business people to explore investment opportunities in banks, services, small industry and some other sectors in India.

Similarly, Indian business people should also plan investment in various sectors, mainly textile, inPakistan.

He said Pakistan`s business people could also explore and start their business activities directly or indirectly through joint ventures with various Indian companies.

Talking about concerns of Pakistani business community about non-tariff barriers (NTBs) in India, he said as Indian government was very receptive towards upcoming free trade activities between the two countries, it was planning to give an enabling environment by removing NTBs.

Talking about the issues relating to visa issuance to business people of both the countries, Mr Godrej urged the two countries to issue long-term business visas for making trade activities successful.

`Though both the countries have agreed to issue visas for one year to business persons subject to producing a certification / recommendation letters from their respective chambers of commerce, it is not enough to promote our business relations.

`Both the countries should do more by issuing visas for a longer period,` he said.

Another Indian businessman Chandrajit Banerjee said he believed that Pakistani business people were more eager to explore investment opportunities in various sectors of India.

`We have also conducted a meeting with Pakistan Business Council and found it very positive about trade with India.

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