New Delhi: Businesses representatives from India and Pakistan today met to discuss ways to boost bilateral trade and requested the governments to look at easier visa norms.

The two sides identified cooperation in areas like textiles, leather, gems and jewellery, renewable energy as those having the potential to transform the economic ties and business between India and Pakistan.

They agreed that there was a need to create a level-playing field between Indian and Pakistani businesses to allow them to leverage on each other’s strengths and develop stronger business linkages.

Ficci President Sidharth Birla called for proactive measures towards achieving India-Pakistan bilateral trade target of USD 6 billion by bringing huge volumes of third country trade and informal trade into the mainstream, opening up of important trade routes and opening of bank branches in each other’s countries.

Pointing out that despite progress, visa problems are still faced by business communities of both countries, the representatives urged for multiple entry visas for businessmen, eliminating requirement for police reporting, removal of regulation of entry and exit from the same port and speeding up the approval process can help boost B-to-B contact between the two countries.

Chairman of Nestle Pakistan Syed Yawar Ali, who was a part of the business delegation visiting India, suggested thatit was time for both countries to push ahead with a Bilateral Trade Agreement as had been proposed during the Commerce Secretary level talks in September 2011.

It had been recommended that the agreement cover three category of products – products that are mutually beneficial, items that are subject to trigger mechanism and are price based and items which are sensitive to each country.

Besides, calling for prioritising cooperation in the energy sphere and sharing of raw material resources, President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry Zakaria Usman urged both countries to work on trans-national pipelines for supply of gas to each other.

He also suggested that Pakistan which has huge deposits of coal with high concentrates of sulphur could use technology available in India to improve the quality of coal.

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