India assures Pakistan to enhance mutual economic engagements
India on Thursday assured a high level Pakistan business delegation of steps to enhance mutual economic engagement, through setting up of bank branches in each other’s territory and opening up of more trade routes.
“Let both the countries quickly establish two bank branches first. We may also look at the possibility of expanding and bringing in some private sector banks,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told the delegation reported PTI.
He said India is keen to open more trade routes between the countries to boost bilateral commerce. “We are keen...In our state of Punjab, they want opening up of more border points and also in Rajasthan. I believe there is a similar desire from the Pakistan side so that other states of Pakistan are also connected,” Sharma said.
Meanwhile, according to an official, the Minister informed the delegation that India is working on a textile policy specifically for its neighbouring countries. “The ministry is working on the South Asia Textile Cooperation Policy,” an official said.
This comes in the wake of allegations from a Pakistan delegation member that his country’s textile industry was given a different treatment by India as compared to other neighbouring countries.
One of the member of the business delegation during the meeting alleged that India gives more concessions to Bangladesh textile firms compared to Pakistan and that it was a discrimination which should be removed, a source said.
On the visa issue, Sharma said that Pakistan should operationalise the process soon for smooth movement of businessmen from both countries. India and Pakistan signed a new visa agreement on September 8 in Islamabad. Once implemented, the agreement will lead to liberalising of the bilateral visa regime and introduction of a number of measures aimed at easing travel, including visits for business purposes.
“The new visa Agreement has still not come into force. Pakistan needs to indicate its readiness to bring into force the new visa agreement. We are ready to do so,” Sharma told the delegation.
On foreign direct investment, the minister asked the Pakistan business leaders to seek assistance from ‘Invest India’ — a vehicle to guide investments into the country. Meanwhile, Chairman of Pakistan Business Council Ali S Habib said Sharma told the delegation that steps are being taken to remove non-tariff barriers.
“We have been assured that steps are and will be taken (in this regard),” Habib said after the meeting.
He said tremendous opportunities existed for business communities from both the countries. “In so many sectors we can cooperate. India produces all kinds of raw materials and products that Pakistan is importing. Pakistan is very strong in textiles,” he said.