Fearing their real issues may get buried amidst political din, traders want political nominees to take up their issues in the larger interest of business community. Amritsar Lok Sabha seat will witness a high stake battle of ballot between Congress candidate Amarinder Singh and BJP nominee Arun Jaitley. Aam Aadmi Party has fielded an eye surgeon Daljit Singh.
"Economy of Amritsar region depends on Indo-Pak trade. Definitely these (trade related) issues need to be brought to the fore (by candidates)," CII, National Council on Public Policy member Gunbir Singh told PTI today when asked what sorts of issues need to be taken up by contestants for the promotion of trade here.
Describing Indo-Pak trade as mainstay for Amritsar region, traders underscored the need for addressing issues like implementing Pakistan's negative list at Attari-Wagah border, improving infrastructure at Integrated Check Post (ICP), installing scanners, allowing trade through containers, multiple visas for businessmen and allowing access to markets in Afghanistan.
"The largest issue is that we were the people who fought out for negative list to come into force whereas there was an absolute discrimination against Attari-Wagah check post because it was not applied at Attari-Wagah though it was applied nationally," Singh said.
Pakistan had notified a negative list in year 2012 whereby it allowed India to export all products to Pakistan, barring 1,209 items. However, Pakistan allowed import of only 137 items through the Attari-Wagah land route which was described as discrimination against Punjab by traders.
Traders pointed out that despite taking up the issue at both Central and State levels many times, it remained unresolved. The total volume of trade between India and Pakistan, including import and export, via Attari-Wagah route is expected to be more than Rs 2,500 crore, say traders.