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India, Pakistan to work together in energy

Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal has said that India is engaged in a dialogue with Pakistan in the energy sector, particularly in three areas, including export of refined petroleum products to Pakistan, supply of 500MW electricity to Pakistan and LNG project for next five years. He was addressing the members of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) here on Friday.

“The private sector’s role is crucial for trade normalisation between Pakistan and India,” he said. “The dialogue process resumed in 2011 when India withdrew its objections related to EU concessions to Pakistan.”

It increased the degree of trust between the two countries with reciprocity from both sides, which led to serious trade talks, he added.

“India allowed investment from Pakistan by lifting restrictions,” he said. There are 138 items importable from India through the Wagah border. But there are capacity issues that need to be resolved at the earliest. The sensitive list would be reduced to 400 from the current 600 items, he added. “Once Pakistan phased out the negative list, India would be entitled to the most favoured nation (MFN) status,” he said.

According to the commissioner, 100 tariff lines would be in the sensitive list and trade tariff would not be more than five percent by April 2013. He said that currently there is excessive trade dependence on sea and rail shipments. “It is a need of the hour to increase truck shipments and open up more land borders,” he observed.

The removal of NTBs, including customs rationalisation, improvement in laboratories and resolution of dispute settlements was underway, he added. Sabharwal asked the APTMA leadership to bring their delegation to India for meeting with counterpart organizations, including the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), to initiate dialogue on bilateral trade and investment, besides identification of prospective investment projects.

“APTMA would lead trade facilitation process with India,” said Group Leader Gohar Ejaz speaking on the occasion. On his suggestion for multiple APTMA-specific visa facility, the Indian high commissioner announced a special visa service for APTMA members in line with the SAARC model. Furthermore, he announced one year triple entry visas for APTMA covering 10 cities with one side entry through land border and return through airport, exempted from police investigation.

He said that visas would be for the CEOs and directors of APTMA and their spouses, followed by the executives of the companies.

Gohar Ejaz said that the APTMA would be prepared to act as one-stop shop for match-making of trade and investment projects between the two countries entrepreneurs in order to alleviate growing unemployment in the region.

Chairman APTMA Punjab Shahzad Ali Khan Khan suggested in his address the establishment of a joint container company for increasing trade between India and Pakistan for overcoming transport infrastructure constraints in the larger interest of trade and investment between two countries.

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