LAHORE - The industry and trade circles on Saturday welcomed the Indian government for liberalizing visa regime for Pakistan, stressing the need for further promoting border trade particularly through land routes which is in favour of both the countries.

The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan central chairman Javed Islam Agha said that the move would further build the goodwill between the two neighboring countries besides promoting joint ventures and paving the way for the transfer of technology as the two countries have their own strengths in different sectors and various areas.

He said that the Indian decision makes the point that the Trade Diplomacy is working well and would soon be resulting in more such good decisions that would help bring the people of two countries further close.

He hoped that the Indian authorities would also consider lifting ban on Indian investors who want to invest in Pakistan.

He hailed the decision of India while terming it as one of the strongest confidence building measures to improve bilateral relations, which will positively affect the intra-SAARC economic cooperation and deepen bilateral and regional economic cooperation.

Javed Agha said that these Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) would go a long way towards normalization of bilateral relations between the two countries.

All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran general secretary Naeem Mir said that one year 10-city visa to businessmen will help increase the bilateral trade between the two countries. He also appreciated the Indian government decision to grant visa on border to senior citizens as this will bring the people of two countries closer.

He said that the potential gains from increased economic integration between India and Pakistan are large whereas the mutual trade between the two countries is unnaturally small. He stressed the need for Indian investments in Equities, Real Estate, industry and financial sectors. He said that the liberalization of visa regime for businessmen will pave way for frequent meetings between the businessmen of the two countries.

LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh regarded it as a great breakthrough in the history of both countries and said that it will not only augment bilateral cooperation manifold but also compliment efforts for meaningful implementation of SAFTA. He also praised the sincere efforts of the political leadership, diplomatic mission and private sector of both the countries particularly from the platform of SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

He however, stressed the need for early removal of all NTBs (non-tariff barriers) imposed by the Indian government that are blocking the smooth flow of Pakistan’s export into India. “If we would have strong trade relations the political relations would get better automatically”, he said.

LCCI President said that informal trade via third countries (such as the United Arab Emirates, specifically Dubai), is estimated around $2 billion to $3 billion per year, and this trade could obviously be undertaken bilaterally at significantly lower cost. He said that India should allow the representatives of private sector of Pakistan to establish trade offices for various products in India.