Indian delegation visit: ‘Pak visitors need freedom to choose entry-exit points’

KARACHI: Vice President of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Muhammad Idrees, while identifying some major hurdles in way of strengthening Indo-Pak ties, said that the Indian government’s visa policy restricts Pakistani visitors to use the same point of entry/ exit only for their arrival and departure from India which must be reviewed. He said that the Pakistani businessmen should be given the freedom to choose the mode of travel and entry/exit points at their own will.

Vice President KCCI gave these remarks while exchanging views with a 57-member Indian delegation of Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO) during their visit to the Karachi Chamber.

The Indian delegation which is being led by Abdul Azeez Hajee, Managing Committee Member FIEO, is currently in Karachi in connection with the India Expo, a single country exhibition showcasing Indian products and services at Karachi Expo Center. Chandranath Som, Joint Deputy Director General FIEO, Vice Chairman Businessmen Group and Former President KCCI, Anjum Nisar and Chairman, International Affairs KCCI, Junaid Esmail Makda, who has played a key role in bringing the Indian delegation to Pakistan, were also present at the meeting.

Highlighting a couple of other problems being faced by Pakistani business community IN across the border clearance of goods, Muhammad Idrees suggested that the Indian Customs require a comprehensive list of documents in addition to standard documents whereas the clearance procedure, which is largely done manually and results in increasing the transportation cost along with delaying export consignments, must be completely digitalized in order to ensure timely transit of various export consignments particularly the perishable items.

He also expressed concerns over lack of clear mapping between HS 8 codes of the two countries thus raising classification issues and hoped that the concerned authorities will pay some attention to these issues. He also underscored the need for signing a currency swap agreement between both countries with a view to facilitate trade.

Commenting on the visit of Indian delegation to KCCI and their valued suggestions given during the meeting, Muhammad Idrees said that these will certainly help boost not only the economic ties between the two countries but also create new horizons and opportunities for further trade & investments in future.

He also congratulated the organizers and members of FIEO for organizing such a successful India Expo at Karachi Expo Center. “As announced by Chandranath Som, Joint Deputy Director General FIEO, we hope that they will continue to organize such expos every year”, he added.

He further informed the Indian delegation that Karachi Chamber would be staging 11th sequel of My Karachi – Oasis of Harmony” scheduled to be held from June 20-22, 2014 at Expo Centre Karachi. Keeping in view the overwhelming response and immense participation of millions of people in My Karachi Exhibition, Muhammad Idrees invited the FIEO delegation to attend this event and ensure maximum participations. In response, all FIEO delegation members expressed their willingness to participate My Karachi – Oasis of Harmony 2014 exhibition.

Idrees further informed that Karachi Chamber would be organizing two exhibitions in India, of which one exhibition would be staged in Chennai whereas the second exhibition would take place in any other city with a view to familiarize the Indian population about the high-quality Pakistani goods and services, besides focusing on strengthening relations with Indian counterparts.

Terming it a major breakthrough, VP KCCI mentioned the signing of bilateral agreements between Pakistan and India last year, VP KCCI said that these agreements helped in strengthening trade relations between the two countries. “As far as trade balance is concerned, it has remained in favour of India where during Fiscal Year 2013, Pakistan exported goods worth $328.62 million to India against $333.46 million in Fiscal Year 2012. On the other hand, goods imported by Pakistan during Fiscal Year 2013 amounted to $ 1.673 billion against imports of $ 1.253 billion in Fiscal Year 2012″, Muhammad Idrees added.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman International Affairs Sub-Committee KCCI, Junaid Esmail Makda mentioned that Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry and KCCI enjoy excellent relations, which had resulted in setting up of Bombay-Karachi Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry. KCCI is looking forward to ink MoUs with other chambers of commerce in India so that more joint chambers could be established which can act as a bridge between the business communities of both sides.

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