KARACHI: Expressing disappointment over a holdup in the signing of a liberalized business visa regime agreement, Sharat Sabharwal, the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, has said that both Pakistan and India are keen on building trade new bridges, Geo News reported.
Addressing a gathering of businessmen in Karachi, he said both Pakistan and India had, in principle, agreed upon the terms and conditions of the said visa regime accord, adding the Indian delegation was here with an aim to strike a deal in this regard.
The Indian high commissioner said that his country wanted to build a relationship of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation with Pakistan.
“India believes that the negative trade list will be phased out by December this year as New Delhi has decided to allow direct investment in Pakistan”, said Indian High Commissioner.
He said that decisions like opening of Munabao-Khokharapar route for trade would contribute significantly to the economy of the region besides giving freight advantage to both the countries.
He said that India and Pakistan should target $12 billion trade within the next five years.
He said that they were convinced that growing trade and economic linkages between the two countries besides contributing to economic progress and well-being of people on both sides would also enhance mutual trust and further enlarge constituencies for peace in India and Pakistan.
“We have an agreed revised visa agreement-agreed to by the two interior ministries-which provides for very liberalized provisions for businessmen, amongst others. It’s our hope that it will be signed soon,” Sabharwal said.
Speaking on the occasion President India Pakistan Chamber of Commerce & Industry, S M Muneer, said that the bilateral trade between both neighbours currently stood around $ 2.7 billion, which could reach $10 billion if both governments push the envelope further.
"The current visa policy of issuing three city visas instead of a multiple city visa has acted as a major impediment to the growth of business ties in both the countries," another chamber official said.
"There is a huge potential for increased bilateral cooperation between both the nations as currently Pakistan only shares 0.43 per cent of India's total trade. The majority of the trade between India and Pakistan is at present routed through other countries," he added.
He also said that matters like issuing of multiple-entry and police reporting-free visas for businessmen would be raised in the meeting.
The new visa regime will also exempt elderly people from police
reporting, he added further.
"It is necessary to continue to build on the bilateral trade and business to business contacts between India and Pakistan, to identify focus areas of mutual interest and benefit for trade and commerce by facilitating interaction on a continuous basis," he said.
Further, he said there was also a need to improve communication connectivity, as it would facilitate exchange of business contacts.