Pak industry body for joint eco zones with India

NEW DELHI, Apr 19: A Pakistani industry body PIBC today called for setting up of joint economic zones with India in the border areas to boost bilateral trade and investment.
“In the joint economic zones businessmen from both the countries should be allowed to set up units in sectors such as fast moving consumer goods, sugar and textiles. This will increase economic activities in the two countries which can share technologies and raw material,” Pak-India Business Council (PIBC) Chairman Noor Muhammad Kasuri told.
Kasuri who is here, promoting the commercial ties, said his council is pushing for the economic zones at different levels.
Although, India does not currently allow foreign direct investment from Pakistan, moves are underway in India to liberalise the FDI regime for the neighbouring country.
Kasuri said that PIBC, which represents about 1,000 members from diverse sectors ranging from textiles, petroleum and cement, will facilitate investments between the two countries.
“We will provide basic information to Indian businessmen about opportunities in Pakistan. We will take their problems with our government,” he added.
Further, he said that during the last one year, several steps have been taken by both the governments to normalise trade relations.
“Gradually everything will fall in line and we are committed to increase trade with India. Huge opportunities are available sectors like textiles, sugar and pharmaceuticals,” he said.
Allaying concerns among Pakistani business community that Indian goods would flood their market, the PIBC chief said that the domestic products can compete with imports from India. “The Indian products are not that cheap”, he said.
He expressed optimism that with the expansion of the trade volume, the trade infrastructure between the two neighbours would “automatically” ramp up.
Recently, the Pakistan government has notified its negative list of 1,209 items, which means India can now exports about 7,000 items to the neighbouring nation.
He hoped that Mumbai-Karachi shipping line would be a reality in the years to come.
“It is natural for the traders between Karachi and Mumbai to opt for sea route as that would save both time and cost,” he added.
At present, the bilateral trade is USD 2.7 billion which can increase to USD 7 billion in the near future, Kasuri said. (PTI)