LAHORE - The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) and Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Saturday agreed that the infrastructure issues were hindering the growth of the trade between Pakistan and India.

The consensus was developed at a meeting between LCCI and FIEO here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry where the President of FIEO Rafiquee Ahmad spoke on behalf of Indian exporters while LCCI President presented the case of Pakistani businessmen. Vice President SAARC Chamber o0f Commerce and Industry Iftikhar Ali Malik, former Vice Presidents Aftab Ahmad Vohra, Shafqat Saeed Piracha and Saeeda Nazar also spoke on the occasion

Both the sides were of the opinion that the land route is most competitive as carrying a container through Wagah costs much smaller while the same through Mumbai-Dubai-Karachi costs many times more. We need to provide better infrastructure to facilitate trade through the closest route.

They said that both the countries should try and explore ways and means to create synergies and not get overly competitive. Improved bilateral ties between India and Pakistan will give the necessary oxygen to South Asia Free Trade Zone which will open vistas of opportunities for countries of the region.

The FIEO President Rafiquee Ahmad said that India is an opportunity for Pakistan and the Pakistani businessmen should avail it. He said that with the likely grant of the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status by Pakistan and phasing out of the negative list, the bilateral relations between India and Pakistan is expected to rise to $6 billion in the next three years from the existing level of $2 billion. Talking about airlink between the two sides, he said that he would press upon the Indian government to open up more flights to Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that Pakistan and India can cooperate in many fields including transfer of Technology, Raw Materials, IT sector, Tourism, Agriculture and Medical. He said that cooperation in these areas could change the fate of the people living in the two countries.

He said that LCCI is formulating a strategy keeping in view the critical position of Lahore in days to come with regard to direct and greater trade between Pakistan and India particularly through Wagah border. He said that Pakistani businessmen are aware of the fact that free trade between Pakistan and India would pose relatively tougher challenges to the industry in this part of the world. “To ensure sustainable trade relations between two countries with an aim to have long term benefits of greater regional trade, both the sides need to supplement each other’s economies.”

Farooq Iftikhar said that we can mutually identify areas of economic cooperation which may lead to joint ventures, out-sourcing and sharing of technology. He said that Pakistan’s exports to India are just one-sixth of that imported directly from India.