Indian investments will not harm Pak Industry

Lahore: Seeking to allay fears that Indian investments would harm the interests of the Pakistan industry, a member of the visiting Indian business delegation has said strengthening of economic ties would be a win-win situation for both the countries. Director General of the Confederation of Indian Industry Chandrajit Banerjee told PTI that Indian businessmen were aware of the concerns of Pakistan industry.

"They fear that their businesses will be closed if we invest in the local market. In fact, it will be a win-win situation for both countries," he said. Banerjee is part of the Indian business delegation which attended the two-day business conference that was addressed by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Bajaj Auto Limited, Rahul Bajaj, said trade between the two countries was moving forward at a considerable pace and this was a good sign so far as bilateral relations was concerned. "Who could think after the Mumbai attacks that we would be here in Lahore in 2012, discussing trade prospects with our Pakistani counterparts," Bajaj said.

However, Bajaj said he was unhappy there was "no progress" in trade in the automobile sector, which is protected under Pakistan?s negative list regime for trade with India. "As my concern is with the automobile industry, I do not think Pakistan will soon (remove restrictions in this sector). However, if things go smoothly on the trade front, the matter may be reviewed after a year or so," he said.

Banerjee said Indian traders want Pakistan to remove the barriers created by the negative list. "Then see the trade between the two countries growing manifold," he said. Pakistan has said it intends to do away with the negative list by December, paving the way for giving India Most Favoured Nation-status by next year. However, top Pakistani officials have linked the move to India removing what they describe as "non-tariff barriers".

"Foreign direct investment will come to Pakistan. Indian industry will invest in Pakistan in the sectors it is allowed. It will not only help generate employment here but products will be available at competitive prices," Banerjee said. Both Bajaj and Banerjee wanted authorities to make the visa process easier for businessmen. Banerjee, however, noted "things are moving very fast" unlike in the past.