KARACHI: Reason, pragmatism and common sense reigned on Thursday, as the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) hosted a delegation of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), which has arrived in the country to mark the first anniversary of the Bombay-Karachi Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BKJCCI).
“Bilateral trade is not like cricket where only one team can claim a victory. In business, everybody wins,” said Ashok Barat, who is leading the Indian delegation as the immediate-past president of the BCCI.
The value of Pakistan’s exports to India in 2011 was $272.8 million. Pakistan’s major exports to its neighbouring country are salt, cement, sulphur, plaster, lime, edible fruit, nuts, peel of citrus fruit and melons.
Pakistan’s exports to India were just 1% of its total exports of $25 billion in 2011. Moreover, Pakistan’s contribution in the total imports of India in 2011 was only 0.1%.
Barat showed optimism about the future of Pakistan-India trade which, he said, was to receive a boost in the wake of the formation of the BKJCCI. “We had a virtual chamber a year ago. We had no office, no committee members, and we used to wonder if we’d be able to run the chamber through telephone calls.”
But the distance between Bombay and Karachi, Barat added, has become less relevant now, as it was the second time in three months that he was in Karachi for BKJCCI-related work. “We’ve lost 64 years already. But we’re here to build a long-term relationship this time around,” he said.
The value of Pakistan’s imports from India was $1.6 billion in 2011. The share of India in Pakistan’s imports in the same year was 3.7%.
Barat listed three objectives of the BKJCCI for the next year. The first objective, he said, was to set up a joint research centre under the BKJCCI. “It will collect data, produce research papers on policy issues and provide businessmen of the two countries with useable information on trade policies, demand-supply trends, pricing and subsidies,” he said.
The second short-term objective of the BKJCCI, according to Barat, was to take a KCCI delegation for a world-class exhibition that was going to be held in Mumbai in 2013.
The third objective, he added, was to set up a mediation centre, comprising people from business communities of the two countries, where disputes related to bilateral trade between India and Pakistan could be resolved in a quick and fair manner.
Speaking on the occasion, KCCI President Mian Abrar Ahmad said that the governments of India and Pakistan should make their visa regimes easier and business-friendly. Calling the visa regime the greatest hurdle in doing business across the border, Ahmad said that chambers of commerce and industry should be involved in visa processing on both sides of the border.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2012.
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