New Indo-Pak visa policy becomes effective

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

ISLAMABAD;December 18, 2012- New visa policy between India and Pakistan has become effective from December 17 instead of earlier agreed January 15, 2013. This was stated by Sharat Sabharwal, High Commissioner of India, during his meeting with the members of Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry here on Monday. He said that substantial progress had been made in improving trade relations between the two countries.

He said that India would reduce the negative list to 100 items within a year while Pakistan would reduce it to 100 items within five years. He further stated that Pakistan had not yet finalised the approval of MFN status to India but the same had been agreed in principle.

The High Commissioner said that three agreements had been signed between the countries to facilitate the business community ie customs facilitation; lab testing and certification and an agreement had been signed for implementing a mechanism for the redressal of trade-related grievances.

Regarding energy and gas problem, the Indian High Commissioner stated that India was having surplus capacity of energy and gas for the next five years and would be more than willing to supply these to Pakistan. He emphasised the need for undertaking confidence building measures between the two countries on sound basis.

Earlier welcoming the Indian High Commissioner, President Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) Mian Zahid Aslam said that currently, the volume of bilateral trade between Pakistan and India was around $2 billion and the figure would go as high as $4 to 5 billion in a couple of years against the potential of $10 billion.

However, the balance of trade was in favour of India, he added. He emphasised for reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers, technical barriers to trade (TBT), minimising or waiving-off the duty structure by India, level playing field to Pakistan Industries, subsidies and concessions to its industries and opening of more land routes. Chaudhry Muhammad Boota, Vice President of FCCI, presented a vote of thanks to the guests and participants of the meeting.