Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan TCA Raghavan said on Wednesday that adequate efforts were being made to develop trade relations between India and Pakistan.
Addressing the members of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he said, “We have accorded special attention on strengthening trade relations between the two countries. India has already granted the Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan in 1998 for promotion of bilateral trade.”
He said the relationship between SMEs of both the countries should be strengthened for increasing the volume of trade. He urged the businessmen to visit India for assessing the demands of Pakistani products in Indian market and to develop direct interaction with his country’s businessmen. The visit of businessmen to India will help promote trade ties between the two countries and bring businessmen of both the countries closer, he said. He informed the house that business visas were being granted to the businessmen on top priority basis.
To a question, the high commissioner said that visa for 10 to 12 of Indian cities being granted to the Pakistani businessmen to help them explore Indian markets. To another question, he said that trade disputes resolution agreement had already been signed by commerce ministries a few year ago and any exporter having problem should inform the dispute resolution unit and inform the high commissioner accordingly for the follow up.
 “Sialkot is economic hub of Pakistan and businessmen of the city should visit for assessing the trade opportunities in India,” he said. He added that there were a lot of misunderstandings behind the issue of granting MFN status to India by Pakistan. He stressed reducing these misunderstandings, saying that the time was ripe for both neighbours to go ahead for reducing the hurdles in the way of granting the status to India and non-discriminatory markets access to Indian markets.
He said that India wanted to have normal economic relationship with Pakistan. He also pledged easy access of Sialkot exporters to Indian markets, saying that India was intending to develop and re-build strong trade relations with Pakistan through the promotion of business-to-business contacts and people-to-people friendly relations.
He asked the Sialkot exporters to hold exhibition of Sialkot-made products in any industrial city of India. He said that the exporters of Sialkot were enriched with the natural potential of exploring and capturing the Indian international trade markets by exporting their diversified traditional and non-traditional export products to India. He said that the Sialkot exporters should go ahead to India for holding their exhibitions there by enjoying liberal visa regime. He said that the full ranged and full sized Indian trade markets were available for Sialkot exporters.
He was of the view that India and Pakistan have entered into the new era of promotion of mutual strong trade ties, cultural, economic and commercial cooperation, as they were moving towards the goal of cultural, economic, political, social and trade stability.
He hoped that the branches of State Bank of Pakistan and Reserve Bank of India would soon be opened in Pakistan and India to facilitate their businessmen. He said that SBP and RBI had been working actively in this regard.
In his address, SCCI President Dr Sarfraz Bashir stressed a need for enhancing economic cooperation between the two countries which would help improve relations in all terms. The SCCI would go a long way in improving understanding and interaction between the business communities of two countries for the promotion of bilateral trade, he said.
Dr Bashir said that relations between Pakistan and India had always fallen prey to uncertainty, which needed to be mended and transformed into an enduring relationship to work jointly for welfare of the peoples of both the countries.
“In order to move forward we must stop conflicts. The neighbours should review relations in a constructive and forward looking manner to avoid negative approach. Past policies had resulted in diverting attention from most obvious task of improving economies to ensure better quality of life to the peoples,” he said.
The SCCI president added that India might reconsider its policy of specific tariffs and regulatory duties and give maximum facilitation to exports from Pakistan. He suggested that there should be ship cargo service between Pakistan and India in order to facilitate interaction between private sectors and transportation of goods.