KARACHI  - FPCCI Vice President Sheikh Haroon Rashid has said that FPCCI wants to further promote and strengthen trade and economic ties with Canada.

He said this during a meeting with Jawad Qureshi, analyst, South Asia, Government of Canada, Privy Council Office, and Uday Sequeira, First Secretary (Political), Canadian High Commission Islamabad, held at FPCCI in Karachi. The meeting was also attended by Sheikh Shakil Ahmed Dhingra, Vice President FPCCI, Zahid Umer, Chairman Pakistan-Canada Business Council of FPCCI, and Maher Alam Khan, Acting Secretary General FPCCI.

Replying to a question, Sheikh Haroon Rashid said Pakistan and India are members of the Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA). By January 2013, the applicable tariff under SAFTA for all the items except those included in the SAFTA sensitive list will be reduced to 0-5% by both India and Pakistan.

He said that Pakistan offered conducive environment for foreign direct investment and invited the Canadian investors to invest in the power sector of Pakistan to help resolve the energy crisis. He also highlighted the challenges which Pakistan was facing. He said that Pakistan had suffered the most in the war against terror as it lost more than 40,000 people and the impact on Pakistan’s economy was almost $85 billion by 2012. He said that international community must assist Pakistan in overcoming this challenge and it was possible only if all players worked in cohesion.

Uday Sequeira highlighted the importance of frequent exchanges of trade delegations as a tool to strengthen people-to-people contacts between the two countries. He said that he found the Pakistani people very open, forthcoming and hospitable.

Shakil Ahmed Dhingra said that dialogue was the only way to address issues between Pakistan and India. He said Pakistan and India have started implementation of the new visa regime with respect to visitor visa, business visa and pilgrim visa, the provision of “Visa on Arrival” for persons above 65 years of age at Wagah/Attari check post and Group Tourist Visa for group of 10 to 50 tourists as well as the facility to enter and exit from different immigration check posts, and exemption from reporting to police, which have fulfilled the popular demand from both sides to relax the visa regime.

He said that the new visa agreement was another positive indicator of growing bilateral relations between the two countries.

Jawad Qureshi said there is a tremendous potential for Canada and Pakistan to explore opportunities and combine strengths to work together in several areas. The purpose of our visit was to inform the Canadian government leaders about Pakistan’s strengths so that both countries can mutually benefit from deeper trade and investment ties. He also talked about the supply chain management issues relating to processing of food, infrastructure facilities, Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade and construction of dams and water reservoirs in Pakistan. He also praised Pakistan’s effort in promoting trade relations with India. He said that the growing trade between India and Pakistan will not only create the political stability between two countries, but also improve the socio-economic conditions of the people.