LAHORE: The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) will lead the trade liberalisation process with India, said Group Head Gohar Ejaz, during the visit of India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal on Friday. On his suggestion for multiple APTMA-specific visa facility, the Indian high commissioner announced a special visa service for APTMA members in line with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) model.
Furthermore, he announced one-year triple entry visa for APTMA members covering ten cities with entry through the land border and return through the airport, exempt from police investigation. He said that the visas will be for CEOs and directors of APTMA members and their spouses, followed by executives of these companies.
Sabharwal said that the role of the private sector was very crucial for trade normalisation between Pakistan and India. He said that the dialogue process resumed in 2011 when India withdrew objections on trade-related EU concessions to Pakistan. It increased the degree of trust between two countries with reciprocity from both sides that led to serious trade talks. India allowed investment from Pakistan by lifting restrictions. He said that there were 138 items importable from India through Wagah. But there were capacity issues which needed to be resolved initially. He also said that longer work hour schedule was introduced for custom officials on both sides of the Wagah border. The sensitive list will be reduced to from 600 to 400 items. Once Pakistan phases out the negative list, India will be entitled to the most favoured nation (MFN) status, he said.
According to the Indian High Commission, some 100 tariff lines will be in the sensitive list and trade tariffs will not be more than 5% by April 2013. He said that India is in dialogue with Pakistan in the energy sector, particularly in three areas including export of refined petroleum products to Pakistan, supply of 500 megawatts (MW) of electricity to Pakistan and project for re-gasified energy – LNG for next five years.
He said that there was excessive trade dependence on sea and rail shipments thus; it is the need of the hour to boost trade through land. He said working on removal of non-tariff barriers was underway.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2012.
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