Ramesh moots Indian direct investment in Pakistan

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Bangalore, Nov 10 (UNI) Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh today advocated India's direct investment in Pakistan to help increase imports from that country to bring down the trade deficit.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function here, he said Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have been complaining about the trade surplus India enjoyed and this had hindered the bilateral trade.

''We are examining the issue of making direct investment in Pakistan to increase the imports from that country. I personally want to promote Indian investment in all the three countries. Then we can import goods from these units,'' he said.

He said unfortunately India did not allow FDI from Pakistan as it was in the negative list. Last year, Bangladesh had been taken off from this list.

''I think we must remove Pakistan from this negative list and also permit direct investment from Pakistan in India, on a case to case basis,'' he said.

The Commerce Ministry had mooted a proposal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to allow investment from Pakistan on a case by case basis in order to strengthen the position of making India's investment in Pakistan. ''But this will be direct investment and not through the 'Dubai' route. I am hopeful that a time will come when Indian companies will invest in Pakistan directly and transparently,'' he said.

Mr Ramesh said city-based Coffee Day had made investments in Karachi but through a 'complicated channel' via the Middle East.

Similarly, there were Pakistani investment in India through the same route. Direct investments between the two countries should happen, he added.

Stating that China remained India's single most trade partner, he said this year the bilateral trade would touch USD 40 billion of which eleven billion Dollars would be India's exports and 29 billion Dollars imports from China.

''China is number one as far as Indian imports are concerned and third most important destination for our exports. But the huge trade imbalance with China is a cause of concern. The main exports to China has been iron ore and even that is now facing some problems.

We will have to diversify,'' he opined.

India was insisting that Chinese companies should invest to produce goods in India for domestic marketing particularly in the areas of Power plant equipment. ''Only then this trade deficit can be reduced,'' he said.

UNI RS ROY 1438

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