KARACHI: Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan T C A Raghavan has said that Pakistan and India are soon going to open bank branches in their respective countries.
“India and Pakistan will sign an agreement next month to open bank branches in Mumbai and Karachi. The much-awaited banking links will give a boost to trade and commerce,” Raghavan said.
He was speaking to the business community at the head office of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Thursday.
“It is good that bilateral trade between India and Pakistan has grown considerably in the last few years but it is still far behind its true potential,” he added.
The high commissioner said his country wants to provide all possible support to the business community of Pakistan so that the two neighbours can increase bilateral trade according to their potential.
Speaking on India-China trade, the high commissioner said the two countries are rapidly improving their trade which is now touching $100 billion.
Concerning visa issues, he said India has eased its visa conditions and it is processing more multiple-entry visas for Pakistani businessmen. “However, India has not yet decided on opening an Indian consulate in Karachi, which is one of the core demands of the business community of Karachi,” he added.
FPCCI President Zubair Ahmed Malik said India and Pakistan should increase regional trade and the two countries need to put all the major issues behind trade cooperation.
Currently, bilateral trade is heavily in India’s favour, which has to change if the two countries want to see more trade in the future, he added.
According to the figures of the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, India, bilateral trade recorded a net increase of $410 million from April 2012 to March 2013, up 20%. Pakistan’s exports to India grew 28% while Indian exports to Pakistan increased 19% during this period.
This recent jump in exports is encouraging for Pakistan but it is still far behind the potential.
Official trade between India and Pakistan has crossed $2.6 billion. India’s exports to Pakistan are $2.1 billion while Pakistan’s exports to India are just $500 million.
Both countries have repeatedly pledged to remove non-tarrif barriers which are hampering trade. Pakistan has so far given Indian the Most Favoured Nation status and pledged to work towards freer trade.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2014.
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