ISLAMABAD

Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan has said that Pakistan and India should focus on the removal of non-tariff trade barriers for facilitating the trade. 

Talking to the new Indian High Commissioner (HC) to Pakistan, Gautam Bambawale, in Islamabad on Monday, the minister stressed that the two countries should relax the process of issuing visas to the businessmen, enhance banking contacts and remove other non-tariff hindrances, which retarded the flow of trade.

The HC said that India had started issuing three-year multiple entry visas to the Pakistani businessmen, which, he hoped, would pave the way for more frequent interaction between the business communities of the two countries.

Khurram said that an exhibition, organised by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan in New Delhi last year, was a resounding success, which introduced the Indian buyers to the fashion brands of Pakistan. “Such exhibitions will be held in future too,” the minister expressed the optimism.

Khurram also met with Omer Zakhilwal, the Ambassador of Afghanistan to Pakistan, and discussed issues regarding bilateral and transit trade.

The two sides agreed to hold a high-level meeting, involving all the stakeholders to discuss the issues faced by traders of both the countries at operational level.

The minister said on the occasion that Pakistan attached high priority to enhancing trade with the regional countries and took several measures last year, which resulted in an increase in the number of Afghan transit cargo over the past few months.

He said that the Gawadar-Chaman Road built under the CPEC would be a short link to Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries.

Talking to the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Marzouk Al-Zahrani, the minister said that Pakistan would launch a grand marketing campaign in Saudi Arabia to create awareness about the Pakistani products in the country.

“Pakistan is planning to host a Saudi investors’ conference in Islamabad in order to apprise Saudi investors of the emerging business opportunities in Pakistan,” Khurram added.

In his meeting with the Ambassador of Uzbekistan, Furkat Sidikov, the minister said that direct passenger and cargo flights from Lahore to Tashkent would start from July 20 this year. “These flights would operate twice a week,” he informed.

The ambassador said this would help Uzbekistan import perishable goods, especially bananas and mangoes, from Pakistan, which it used to import from the Latin American countries.

Sidikov said that Uzbekistan grew some of the finest quality cotton, which could feed the sophisticated textile industry of Pakistan, manufacturing their products for the high-end fashion consumers of the West.

He added that Uzbekistan specialised in agricultural tools and machinery as well, and would hold an exhibition in Lahore this year to display the whole range of its agriculture related machinery.