India Expo Inaugurated: Siraj Teli for pressurizing both governments, armies, bureaucracies to normalize Indo-Pak ties
Karachi, December 13, 2013 (PPI-OT): Chairman of Businessmen Group (BMG) and Former President of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Siraj Kassam Teli has said that the business communities of Pakistan and India must pressurize their respective governments, armies and bureaucracies to resolve all issues including the Kashmir and other issues with a view to pave way for improved trade relations between the two countries.
“The business communities of both countries can do it if they are ready to force their governments to follow instead of being led by them”, he added.
Speaking as Chief Guest at the inauguration ceremony of ‘India Expo’ organized at Karachi Expo Center on Friday, Siraj Kassam Teli stressed the need for speeding up the process of normalizing relations between Pakistan and India.
“Whenever the Indo-Pak relations and talks are heading in the right direction and the business communities start hoping that the relations will now improve, something bad happens or some negative comments by the politicians and army officials of both sides terribly affect the overall Indo-Pak talks process. Consequently, we are unable to see any improvement in our relations and remain at the same point”, he added.
Member FIEO Managing Committee and Head of Delegation, Abdul Azeez Hajee, Deputy High Commissioner, High Commission of India, Gopal Baglay, Vice Chairman BMG, Zubair Motiwala, President KCCI, Abdullah Zaki, Joint Deputy Director General FIEO, Chandranath Som and Chairman Special Committee for Liaison with International Chambers, Junaid Esmail Makda also spoke on the occasion
Siraj Teli further said that the business communities and people of both countries have no problems with each other and want to see improved relations between the two countries of this region but every time some hurdle is created either by the politicians, by armies or by the bureaucracies. “The entire process of strengthening relations between the two countries slows down and almost comes to a halt if such negative developments happen”, he added.
Siraj Teli observed that regional trade was improving everywhere around the world and priority should be given to improve regional trade amongst SAARC countries which currently remains limited to 6 percent only. “On the other hand, this regional trade amongst EU countries has risen to 70 percent and it was around 40 percent amongst ASEAN countries. These countries have been progressing well but unfortunately, our region was far behind”, he added.
Expressing deep concerns over unofficial trade between Pakistan and India, Siraj Teli said that the size of unofficial trade was greater than the official trade between the two countries which clearly indicates that both countries have the potential to substantially enhance official trade if all hurdles in way of direct trade are effectively removed.
Siraj Teli mentioned that KCCI remains in constant touch with their counterparts around the world and this second edition of India Expo in Karachi being organized by Federation of Indian Export Organization in association with Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry clearly indicates that the situation is improving between the two countries and the Indo-Pak business communities are moving forward in the right direction.
Highlighting the commercial activities of Karachi city, Siraj Teli said that the Indian business community can enhance trade to Pakistan strengthening trade with business community of Karachi, which offers excellent opportunities as it holds a population of 20 million and is spread over a massive land more than 3500 sq. kilometres.
Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the largest chamber of Pakistan with 18 to 20 thousand members while the total membership strength of the remaining 42 chambers of Pakistan was less than the membership of Karachi Chamber that makes KCCI the leading chamber of Pakistan.
He reiterated that although trade ties between Pakistan and India have improved but lot more needs to be done as it was a long way to go.
Earlier, while welcoming the guest, leader of the Indian delegation and Managing Committee member of Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO), Abdul Azeez Hajee said, “We are here to share the actual sentiments of the business communities of India and Pakistan, develop cordial relations, understand the trade opportunities which lie in both the countries and take forward our bilateral trade relations to newer heights.”
He pointed out that during the past five years, trade volume between India and Pakistan has witnessed 44.4 percent growth from US$1.8 billion to US$2.6, which according to Azeez Hajee was no mean achievement. However, Pakistan’s trade with India is only 3.7 percent of its total global trade.
He was of the view that the statistical trade figures of both countries reflect the eagerness and positive sentiments of the business communities and also the tremendous untapped trade potential which lies between the two countries. “Today it is the world of cooperation so we must cooperate and compete. We need to complement each other in business and serve the global market”, he added.
Commenting on Pakistan granting Most Favoured Nation status to India, Azeez Hajee said that India granted MFN status to Pakistan in 1995 whereas Pakistan too decided to grant a similar MFN status last year and the business communities of both the countries are eagerly waiting its implementation. He also requested the Pakistani authorities to look into this aspect in order to help the business community of India in taking trade relations to new level with this small initiative.
Highlighting various hurdles in ensuring smooth and direct trade between Pakistan and India, he said that the restrictive approach to trade has given rise to huge illegal trade mostly through Dubai. Estimates say that such trade is double the volume of the formal trade.
Referring to recent study, Azeez Hajee said that with further liberalization of trade between Pakistan and India, there is potential to grow bilateral trade from anywhere between 4 to 7 times the present i.e., anywhere between US$11 billion to approximately US$20 billion.
He also invited KCCI to organize Karachi Expo in India and it will be the privilege of FIEO to organize the complete show there.
He also expressed satisfaction over the decisions taken by both governments to do away with cumbersome process of reporting to police upon arrival in each others’ countries. “It is a very welcome step. However, the implementation at the ground level is yet to happen”, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, President KCCI, Abdullah Zaki said that India Expo by FIEO offers a unique opportunity for businesses in the region to showcase products and services that stand the test of domestic and global acceptance and competitiveness. It is such Expos that can spur greater trade and investments that are so crucial in nurturing economic growth of the two countries.
He also paid tribute to the business communities of the two countries to support their respective Governments in fostering Pak-India bilateral trade. “Today this exhibition became possible with the joint efforts of FIEO and KCCI, which provides a platform to Indo-Pak business communities to explore new horizons for business prospects. I hope this Expo would prove yet another milestone for mutual cooperation and facilitation to the business community of both countries”, he added.
He informed that the Karachi Chamber has also planned to allocate one complete hall for Indian Pavilion in the 11th My-Karachi Exhibition scheduled to be held from 20th to 22nd June, 2014 and extend invitation to Indian Exhibitors and FIEO members to participate.
For more information, contact:
M. Shafiq Baig
Public Relations Officer
Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI)
Tel: +9221 9921 8001 -09
Fax: +9221 9921 8010
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