SAARC business community hails Pak-India trade talks

SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) on Saturday termed the 5th round of secretary-level talks between Pakistan and India, a step to push commercial ties in the right direction.“Local business community as well as traders across the SAARC region are encouraged by the development”, Vice President SCCI Iftikhar Ali Malik said.This bold initiative after successful cricket diplomacy was needed because the other countries of the grouping cannot grow unless relations are normalised between the two most important nations, he said.

Speaking at a meeting here at SAARC Secretariat, he said that Pakistan should accord Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to India while they should remove barriers to create an enabling environment for trade. he two countries also need to discuss a bilateral preferential treaty to boost economic growth aimed at reducing poverty, he said. Iftikhar Ali Malik said that the two countries should develop more routes for passengers and freight traffic to build trust. It will boost Pakistan’s economy with textile and cement sector major beneficiary which is the backbone of our economy and largest urban employment provider, he said. Malik demanded to include private sector representatives in the group  of experts to trade electricity, petroleum products, BT cotton seeds etc, adding that “we should share energy, water, research and commodities”.

He informed that he would lead a 40-member delegation of Dhaka to participate in SCCI meeting scheduled on May 16 to find out ways to increase intra-Saarc trade which is presently below 5 per cent. Iftikhar Ali Malik further said that it has been decided to establish permanent headquarter of SCCI in Islamabad. Malik Sohail Hussain, Chairman Media, FPCCI said on the occasion that Pakistan and India should help develop each other so that who region could be developed which is home to majority of global population. No spectacular decisions were made in talks due to political differences but the move will help improve the environment to achieve greater goal of prosperity, he said. Poverty reduction is impossible until normalisation of relations so that they can spend properly on health and education, he said adding that cordial relations are in the interest of all stakeholders, said Malik Sohail. India should remove excessive red tape on Pakistani exports after which Islamabad will be obliged to grant MFN status to New Delhi, he said. – App