LAHORE: High Commissioner of India T.C.A Raghavan has said that India and Pakistan have the potential to become a growth opportunity for each other therefore both countries should take collective measures for mutual benefits.
He was addressing at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Friday (LCCI). LCCI President Ijaz A. Mumtaz presented the address of welcome while Senior Vice President Mian Nauman Kabir, Vice President Syed Mahmood Ghaznavi and Executive Committee Members were also present on the occasion.
The Indian High Commissioner said that we have to move forward and take wider view of the mutual trade. He said that in recent years, Indian economy has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies of the world. He said that trade fairs and exhibitions could play a vital role in enhancing the mutual trade ties. Raghavan said it is a matter of gratification that private sector of India and Pakistan is holding fairs and exhibitions in each other’s country.
He informed the house that trade volume between India and China is likely to reach $ 100 billion mark by the end of this year. Raghavan said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry is playing laudable role for enhancement of trade between India and Pakistan.
He also agreed with the LCCI President point of view that hurdles coming in the way of mutual trade should be removed on priority basis.
Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that it is matter of concern that despite having many commonalities between the two countries, we have yet to benefit from each other’s strong areas. He said that both countries could enhance cooperation in various sectors of economy. He said that there is immense potential in the tourism sector between Pakistan and India, especially religious tourism that has so far just been fractionally exploited.
LCCI President said that both countries need to create an environment to let the healthy competition prevail. Pakistan and India are capable of supplementing each other to attain win-win situation. He said that there are issues prevailing on both sides in the way of normalization of trade links between India and Pakistan. He said that Pakistani government as well as business community fully understands the significance of regional trade which cannot promise any good results until Pakistan and India act with a futuristic approach.
Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that both governments should draw a clear line between political and economic issues. It is high time that trade between both the countries should be given a fair chance to contribute towards peace and prosperity in the region. Referring to the trade related data of last three years, LCCI President said that we have succeeded to bring some improvement in total trade between Pakistan and India. From 2012 to 2013, a noticeable increase was witnessed in the bilateral trade figures. In 2012, the total trade was around US $ 1.92 billion which swelled to US $ 3.28 billion in 2013. In that period our exports to India increased from US $ 348 million to US$ 403 million. Similarly, the imports from India have shown increase by reaching to US $ 1.87 billion from US $ 1.57 billion.
He said that both countries have to put in more efforts to further enhance bilateral trade and for that matter we need to innovate the existing ways of making business deals. Holding single country exhibition has proved to be a successful method. To reciprocate India show being held in Lahore every year, LCCI organized Pakistan show last year in Amritsar. These efforts are certainly contributing in bridging the gaps between private sector representatives across the borders. For holding the Pakistan show in Amritsar, cooperation shown by Indian high commission was commendable.
LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Nauman Kabir and Vice President Syed Mahmood Ghaznavi said that because of non tariff barriers businessmen chose trading via Dubai & Singapore etc. This only adds to cost and time factors. If trade between Pakistan and India is liberalized the volume of two way trade can take a quantum jump. They said that public and private sector of both countries should make joint efforts to expand trade & investment.
They said that Chambers of Commerce & Industry from Pakistani and Indian sides should play a sensible role to facilitate their members with regard to developing networking amongst each other.