Ties with India: Free trade will not eliminate any industry, says FPCCI

VP says increased trade will deepen relations with Delhi.

Our Correspondent February 19, 2014
“Greater trade is the only way to strengthen relations with India, which can help the neighbours to prosper in a short span of time,” says FPCCI vice president. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID.

ISLAMABAD: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Vice President Sheikh Imtiaz Ahmed has said that free trade with India will not eliminate any industry or hurt the agriculture sector, rather liberal trade ties will benefit both the sides and their people.

“Greater trade is the only way to strengthen relations with India, which can help the neighbours to prosper in a short span of time,” he remarked.

He was talking to different delegations here on Wednesday, led by Chamber of Small Traders President Kamran Abbasi, Anjuman-e-Tajiran Islamabad Chapter President Sheikh Saleem, Traders Welfare Association President Ajmal Baloch and Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Samina Fazil.

Ahmed suggested that the volume of informal trade between India and Pakistan and trade through third countries must be reduced to ensure persistent growth in formal trade.

“Informal trade worth billions of dollars is taking place among member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) while a sizeable quantity finds its way to Pakistan through a third country,” he said.

Ahmed was of the view that a turnaround would be possible if India and Pakistan resolved their disputes through ensuring a better life for over a billion people, who had so far experienced poverty, illiteracy and absence of basic facilities.

Commenting on the increasing indirect taxes, he noted Pakistan had become one of the high taxpaying societies.

Regressive indirect taxation would not serve any purpose as the poorest of the poor were being forced to pay more, he said, adding achieving revenue targets would remain a far cry unless restructuring and radical reforms were undertaken in tax administration.

Trade leaders drew attention of the FPCCI vice president to hurdles and called for a clear tax policy. They gave assurances that they would explore new areas of cooperation with the FPCCI.

The businessmen and traders agreed to hold fortnightly meetings and awareness seminars.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2014.

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