Increasing trade: SAARC Chamber for reviving one-year visa exemption

VPs asked to push governments for restoration of the facility.

APP February 05, 2014
Trade ties: 1.2% is the percentage of Pakistan’s total exports that goes to India, while Pakistan accounts for less than 0.9% of India’s global exports.

LAHORE: Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) President Vikramjit Singh Sahnay on Wednesday called for immediate revival of one-year SAARC visa exemption sticker to promote trade in the region.

Speaking to Saarc CCI (Pakistan chapter) Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik by telephone from New Delhi, Sahnay said all the Saarc CCI vice presidents had been directed to exercise their influence on their respective governments for restoration of the one-year visa exemption sticker facility by replacing the existing three-month facility.

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He said the SCCI had already sent a request to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) secretariat, seeking a presentation before the council of ministers on February 20 in Male, the Maldives.

The request also called for increasing the number of visa stickers from 200 to 500 with one-year validity for businessmen of each member state of the Saarc body, he added.

“Multiple entries on one-year visa with exemption from police reporting and an increase in the number of cities that visa holders can visit will ensure a smooth and frequent exchange of trade delegations between the private sectors,” Sahnay remarked.

“Pakistan and India, with the support of their private sectors, have taken historic steps to normalise bilateral trade relations. South Asia is the fastest growing region in the world, but is also one of the least integrated,” said the SCCI chief. “As the region’s trade with the rest of the world is growing rapidly, intra-regional trade is merely 5% of its total trade.”

He said trade between Pakistan and India a few years ago stood at an estimated $1.83 billion. India accounts for nearly 1.2% of Pakistan’s global exports, while Pakistan accounts for less than 0.9% of India’s global exports.

“Despite being trade and investment partners, the volume of trade between Pakistan and India is extremely low,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2014.

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