NEW DELHI: Pakistan Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, currently on a visit to India, on Thursday expressed optimism at the dawn of a new era of trade and investment relations with India as “both countries are now poised to open bank branches, and land routes.”Addressing the India-Pakistan Business Conclave, organised by FICCI Fahim said, “Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan is expected to flourish and hopefully all non-tariff barriers would be removed soon. These measures will send a positive signal to the business communities about the sincere intention of the two governments.”
He said that the atmosphere of fear and apprehension has reduced considerably and business persons in both countries have started to believe that governments in both countries are committed to normalisation of trade relations. As regards Safta (South Asian Free Trade Area), he said that Pakistan wanted to make it an effective and meaningful agreement and hoped that the unnecessary long sensitive lists of products would be considerably reduced. He observed that Safta would enter into negotiations with Asean to create a bigger block, thus having Asean as a partner, on the east and Ecota, which has Turkey and Central Asia, on the west.
Appreciating India’s commerce ministry and FICCI’s role in facilitating the Pakistani delegates with visas for eight destinations and easing the restriction of exit and entry points, the minister hoped that this becomes a permanent facility to encourage Pakistani businessmen to visit India.
Anand Sharma, Minister for Union Commerce, Industry and Textiles, in his remarks described the visit of the Pakistan commerce minister as a ‘defining’ moment in bilateral trade relations.
The government-to-government talks and dialogue between businessmen of the two sides was marked by freshness and frankness, he said and added that if such openness persists it would send a powerful message not only in the South Asian region but to the entire world.The business conclave was also addressed by FICCI President Rajan Bharti Mittal and Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Senator Haji Ghulam Ali. – Nation