Pakistani lifestyle goes to India
The country’s first lifestyle exhibition, Lifestyle Pakistan was held by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) in New Delhi, from April 12 to 15, 2012. More than 100 renowned Pakistani brands participated in the show along with personal presence of leading fashion designers, furniture makers, artists and craftsmen.
The event was inaugurated in New Delhi by Anand Sharma, India’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles, in presence of Zafar Mehmood, Pakistan’s Commerce Secretary and Shahid Malik, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India, on April 12. Some of Pakistan’s top companies related to lawn and fashion apparel, home textiles, furniture, leather goods, Sindhi crafts and Pakistani cuisine made good use of the opportunity to explore the Indian lifestyle market. They included Gul Ahmed, Al Karam, Hub Leather, Khaadi, Junaid Jamshed Lawn, Orient Textiles, Nishat Textiles, AsimJofa and Chen One.
On the cccasion, Anand Sharma, Indian commerce and industries minister announced India’s decision to allow Pakistani investment in India. Participants were excited about the normalization of trade relations between both nations.
Prior to this, India and Pakistan did not welcome Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from each other. India’s current investment policy allows FDI in sectors not deemed sensitive enough for government oversight through the ‘automatic route’ and through the ‘government route’ in all other sectors. Even within the automatic sectors, areas are inaccessible to foreign investment without government permission. A study released by the Associated Chamber of Commerce & Industry in India, cites the telecom sector to explain this. While the sector allows 74 percent FDI – “subject to certain specific conditions as specified by the Consolidated FDI Policy 2011” – only 49 percent of this is allowed through the automatic route. As such, Sharma’s commitment that “procedural requirements are underway and will be notified soon” was welcomed.
The statement has also encouraged policymakers in Pakistan to allow Indian FDI in view of the Pakistan’s already liberal foreign investment policy. In face of a dismal FDI position, opening doors to Indian investors will help the Pakistani economy. Many large Indian conglomerates have been investing in China in spite of the fact that both countries have border disputes. In 2008, the Government of Pakistan had suggested to India the ‘ChinaIndia model’ with a view to normalizing relations but it could not make much headway.
However, the real issue for many Pakistani businessmen keen to do business in India is that India has not allowed FDI in retail trading so far. Most textile manufacturers and fashion designers from Pakistan were overwhelmed by the response they got at Lifestyle Pakistan show in New Delhi and claimed that almost 95 percent of their goods were sold on the first two days as retail sales were allowed. Now, leading textile people say that they intend to grant franchises to Indian partners in order to overcome the restriction.
Pakistani textile exporters have also asked India to reduce import duty on Pakistani textiles to the levels offered to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – an issue that could be resolved if both countries were to follow the SAFTA tariff regime. The other common concern was that the testing of products should be made easier and thirdparty certificates of internationally- reputed companies should be accepted. Further, most businessmen want more land routes to be opened quickly and upgraded on the pattern of Wagah- Attari Integrated Checkpost, which now has the capacity to handle 600 trucks a day.
India and Pakistan have opened a new chapter with the holding of Lifestyle Pakistan exhibition. The show opened just days after Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari visited India for a day.
“There is no other option but economic partnership between India and Pakistan,” remarked Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma at the launch of the exhibition, a sentiment echoed by Pakistani officials as well. “We have to recognize our true trade potential and leave our children with a legacy that ensures prosperity, harmony and peace,” Sharma said.
The fair showcased Pakistan’s best jewellery, textiles, furniture and clothing. “We have the top brands from Pakistan, high- end fashion and creative work at this show,” Tariq Puri, Chief Executive, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, said. “We have never had so many quality people under the same roof. This is Pakistan’s contemporary side.” He further said that increased trade represented an “enormous win- win opportunity” for India and Pakistan.”
Pakistani participants said they looked forward to more trade. “We hope this new trade can overcome a lot of the misunderstanding between the countries and a new era of cooperation will start,” said Mian Ahad, one of Pakistan’s leading furniture designers. The participants saw a vast opportunity in India, a huge market of 1.2 billion people.
The two countries are moving towards a most- favoured- nation accord and have reduced taxes that hamper trade. Currently, two- way trade of around $ 2.6 billion is heavily tilted in India’s favour but unofficial trade is estimated at up to $ 10 billion. The show underscored hopes voiced by the two nations that boosting trade can help peace talks, including Kashmir.
(Front row) Anand Sharma, Indian Minister for Commerce, Industry and Textiles (centre), inaugurating the “Lifestyle Pakistan” exhibition, is flanked by (from left) Tariq Iqbal Puri, Chief Executive, TDAP, Zafar Mahmood, Pakistan Commerce Secretary,
Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Speaker, Provincial Assembly of Sindh and Shahid Malik, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India.
Tariq Iqbal Puri, Chief Executive, TDAP,
speaking at the inaugural ceremony.