India, Pakistan to open bank branches, land routes

New Delhi: Visiting Pakistan’s Commerce Minister, Makhdoom Amin Fahim expressed optimism at the dawn of a new era of trade and investment relations with India as “both countries are now poised to open bank branches, and land routes.”

Addressing India-Pakistan Business Conclave, organized by Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry FICCI, he said bilateral trade between India and Pakistan is expected to flourish and hopefully all non-tariff barriers would be removed soon. These measures will send a positive signal to business communities about sincere intention of the two governments.

Fahim said atmosphere of fear and apprehension has reduced considerably and business persons in both countries started to believe that governments in both countries are committed to normalize trade ties.

On SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area), he said Pakistan wanted to make it an effective and meaningful agreement and hoped unnecessary long sensitive lists of products would be considerably reduced. SAFTA would enter into negotiations with ASEAN to create and bigger block, thus having ASEAN as a partner, on the east and ECOTA, which has Turkey & Central Asia, on the west, he added.

Appreciating India’s Commerce Ministry & FICCI’s role in facilitating Pakistani delegates with visas for eight destinations and easing restriction of exit and entry points, Fahim hoped this becomes a permanent facility to encourage Pakistani businessmen to visit India.

Anand Sharma, Indian Commerce, Industry & Textiles Minister described visit of Fahim as “a defining” moment in bilateral trade ties. The government-to-government talks and dialogue between businessmen of two sides was marked by freshness, frankness, he said adding if such openness persists it would send a powerful message not only in South Asian region but to the entire world. Business conclave was also addressed by Rajan Bharti Mittal, Past President FICCI & Senator Haji Ghulam Ali President, Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce & Industry FPCCI.

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