Lahore: The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has asked Islamabad to grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India without further hesitation so that the two neighbours could achieve goals of poverty reduction and prosperity.
Bilateral trade between Pakistan and India has doubled in the last two years to US$ 2.7 billion which can be pushed up to USD 8 billion by adopting some simple measures, said Zubair Ahmed Malik, President FPCCI.
Speaking to a roundtable on ‘India Pakistan Economic Relations: The Next Milestone’ organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in New Delhi, he said that strong political will is needed to realise the actual trade potential which in no less than 50 billion dollars per annum.
The FPCCI Chief said that both countries should ease visa restrictions to actualise the real potential which will only flourish if free movement of people is allowed, tariff as well as non-tariff barriers are lifted and issues like bureaucratic hurdles, high import tariffs and lack of infrastructure are resolved.
Zubair Ahmed Malik said that FPCCI and FICCI have been working together since for two decades to further bilateral economic agenda, adding that FPCCI will extend full cooperation to FICCI in organising the second edition of the ‘India Show’ in Lahore from February 14 to 16.
“I believe that MFN will not be a death knell for the Pakistan economy as regarded by some Pakistani sectors, it only suggests that for trade purposes a WTO member country will not be discriminated by other member countries,” said Zubair.
Speaking on the occasion, Vikramjit Singh Sahney, President SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Senior Executive Committee Member of FICCI said that we need political will on both sides to exploit growing opportunities for which reduction in information gap is imperative.
Gluzar Feroz, VP FPCCI asked the India to allow direct sales of certain items to Pakistan like chemicals, dyes and heavy machinery which will reduce costs and improve relations.
Naeem Anwar, Minister of Trade at the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi said that Islamabad has completed the consultation and hoped that negotiations on issuing the MFN status to India would start soon.
Joint Secretary in the Indian Commerce Ministry Arvind Mehta said Pakistan need to continue dialogue if it wants the Indian market to open for its businessmen for which Islamabad mush accord non-discriminatory access to Indian products after which India will do the same.
The dialogue process needs to be uninterruptible and irreversible as under the SAFTA process both countries would bring down the duty level on 98 per cent items to 0-5 per cent range.
It may be mentioned that presently Zubair Ahmed Malik is in India heading a powerful business delegation.