PM permits negative-list items at Lahore trade show LAHORE: The government of Pakistan has permitted Indian exhibitors to showcase items which fall under the negative list during the ‘India Show’ scheduled between February 14 and 16 at the Lahore Expo Centre.
According to officials, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has given a one-time approval to participating Indian exhibitors to showcase items which are still in the negative list of trade with India. Interestingly, government officials were also surprised with the move.
“I’m not sure why a one-time approval has been given to Indian exhibitors to showcase items which fall under the negative list when the trade of such items is not allowed through regular channels,” said an official, assuming that it is possibly a move in the direction to bring these items into the positive list and pave the way for the MFN status to India. However, the official also said that the move give an unfair advantage to those who can import these negative list items from India using third countries such as Dubai, Malaysia or Sri Lanka.
Aftab Vohra, LCCI convener on Indo-Pak trade, said that there is no harm in granting a one-time approval for the display of negative list items. “India has allowed Pakistan this facility in their annual international expos for more than past decade. India also permits limited sale of these negative list items there as well,” he said, adding that the goodwill gesture would help pave the way for stronger trade
relations. Over 400 Indians are expected to attend the ‘Indian Show’ in Lahore. However, no Indian politician or the president of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) is attending the event. The delegation is being led by the senior vice president of the FICCI Dr Jyotsna Suri.
The second ‘Indian Show’ is jointly organised by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry Government of India, Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), FICCI, and Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
Minster for Commerce, Engr Khuram Dastagir will inaugurate the show while other top government officials are also involved in organising the show. Some low rank Indian commerce ministry and industry officials are also coming with the delegation. However, Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma is unlikely to attend the event, reportedly because of the deepening mistrust between the two countries over normalising bilateral trade.
A TDAP media invite said around 400 delegates would visit Lahore to attend the second Indian Show, including CEOs, Indian officials and high-level businessmen, head of FICCI, exhibitors and others. Exhibitors mainly from the gems and jewellery, garments and apparels, food processing, FMCG, flavours and fragrances, hospitals, agriculture equipment, auto components and others sectors will display their products in the Made in India Expo.
Indian trade delegates have begun arriving in Lahore to showcase their products at the India Show on Wednesday. A spokesperson of TDAP said that on the sidelines of India Show, trade delegates will hold talks with the Pakistani business community on bilateral trade issues.
More than 100 companies are likely to participate in the show with display and sale of Indian goods and services.
Formal trade between India and Pakistan has increased from $250 million in FY03 to $2.4 billion in FY13 with a compounded annual growth rate of 25 percent in the
last 10 years. However, bilateral trade balance is heavily in favour of India with exports pegged at $1.84 billion and imports at $0.51 billion in FY13. Exports have increased by 19 per cent in FY13 while imports from Pakistan have increased by 27 percent. Experts believe potential trade between the nation ranges between $5 billion and $42 billion.
They also believe that enhancing trade relations between India and Pakistan would ensure cheaper raw materials and low transportation and insurance cost which would translate into quality goods at competitive prices for both countries. The consumers would gain in terms of lower prices, higher purchasing power and greater choice of traded goods while manufacturers would have access to wider markets in the neighbourhood.