India, Pak to have new visa regime

NEW DELHI, Apr 12:
India and Pakistan are expected to formally announce by next month finalisation of a new visa regime to facilitate movement of businessmen from both the countries, visiting Commerce Secretary Zafar Mahmood said today.
“In principle, the visa things are finalised. But it needs to be formally announced and approved. This would be done by by the Interior Ministry of Pakistan and the Home Ministry of India,” Mahmood said.
He was speaking to reporters after the inaugural function of the four-day ‘Lifestyle Pakistan’ exhibition here.
Mahmood said there are possibilities, under the new agreement, that a businessman from either country would get visa for more than one year and that too for more number of cities.
“We expect that the meeting (between the Interior Ministry of Pakistan and the Home Ministry of India) would take place in April or May and this would be formally announced,” he added.
India and Pakistan are working towards revising the existing bilateral visa agreement that was signed in 1974 to facilitate travel by bonafide businessmen from both the countries.
Mahmood said now the movement of people is restrictive wherein “a (Pakistani) businessman coming to Delhi cannot even go to Gurgaon (in Haryana)” .
He also said that there is need to improve the infrastructure at borders to boost the movement of goods like cement.
When asked about prospects of investments from Pakistan, Mahmood said Indian businessmen are always welcome to do investment in Pakistan, but “for us there are restrictions in India”.
Meanwhile, inaugurating the exhibition, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said he would discuss all the issues, including allowing trade of power and petroleum products, tomorrow with his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Amin Fahim.
“We are talking about trade in petroleum products. We are also working towards opening up of bank branches of both the countries. The central banks of both the countries are in dialogue to finalise the modalities. We will be discussing all these issues,” Sharma said.
The minister also said that the informal trade between the countries exceed the official trade and there is a need to address the issue.
Bilateral trade between the two countries at present is around USD 2.8 billion, although the informal trade, mainly via countries like Dubai and Singapore, is estimated to be USD 10 billion. (PTI)


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