Indian, Pakistani traders want less restrictionsBy Rohit Vaid, IANS
Sunday, November 21, 2010
NEW DELHI - Indian and Pakistani businessmen at the 30th India International Trade Fair (IITF) want more access to each other’s markets and removal of various barriers to further trade and good relations between the two neighbours.
Pakistan pavilion director Mazhar Mufti, who is also assistant secretary of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said business and trade opportunities are enormous between the two countries.
“There is a huge opportunity here. We need Indian goods. It’s a necessity for us. Indian businesses could also get access to a huge market as Pakistan,” Mufti told IANS.
According to Mufti, trade barriers like product lists for exports and imports only hurt the interests of the people on both the sides.
“We are currently importing everything from vegetables to other products but because of such restrictions, people’s interests are getting hurt,” he added.
Mufti pointed out that opening trade, business and people-to-people contacts will help in generating more jobs, control price rise and lead to good relations between the two neighbours.
“You import cement, gas and other products from around the world at high prices and we import products like medicines when all these can be traded between us at a more affordable rate,” he pointed out.
Mufti also cited the export of cement by Pakistan for Commonwealth Games projects here and said there was a great opportunity for all kinds of goods.
Pakistani traders selling goods like textiles, spices and handicrafts have reported bumper sales and an enthusiastic response from their Indian customers at the IITF.
Pakistani businessman Ali Noor, who is in the country to sell and promote his spices and ready-made food pastes, felt that the reason for such a robust response to Pakistani items is the lack of trade with India.
Similar sentiments were expressed by the Indian business community at the fair.
Ramesh Tiwari, who co-owns one of the stalls, said retail venues of products should be opened all year around - to benefit everyone.
“This only happens once a year, but if the governments agree and provide us with permanent year-round venues in each others’ countries for retail sales, that would be fantastic for both the sides,” he added.
Enthusiastic shoppers are buying everything from textiles to spices at such a rate that the stall owners believe will exhaust all their stocks before the fair ends.
According to Noor, the warm sentiments between the Indian and Pakistani business communities show that political affairs between the countries should be left to the politicians as it does not affect the common man.
“We have come to the fair for over 10 years. I believe people from both sides now want to look forward and do business with each other. There is a lot of love and respect that we received from here and we reciprocated in the same way,” he added.
Noor also said that outstanding issues like Kashmir will be resolved only with love and respect for each other. The people now want an end to the issue, he maintained.
(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)