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ASSOCHAM submits 8-point strategy for Indo-Pak Summit

By Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 24 (UNI) The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) has worked out an 8-point strategy for an Indo-Pak Joint Study Group and Secretary Level Summit, to be held in Islamabad on March 27-28 seeking acceleration of economic ties.

Commerce Secretary S N Menon and his team will discuss trade and commerce related issues with their counterparts in Pakistan to boost economic relations between the two countries.

The paper which has been submitted to Commerce Secretary by ASSOCHAM President Anil K Agarwal seeks acceleration of economic activities for mutual gain in areas of tea, sugar, fresh fruits, vegetables, basmati rice, tourism, information technology and services, cotton textiles, machinery, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

Mr Agarwal, in a statement issued here today, said India and Pakistan should establish cooperation to provide a fillip to the tea industry, since Pakistan imports more than 150 million tonnes of tea from the global market whereas from India it imports only around 2.5 per cent of its total tea imports.

The Indian sugar industry is booming and has the potential to export especially to Pakistan. The latter is currently facing a shortage of sugar due to low cane production in 2005 and is planning to place orders worth almost 50,000 tonnes of white sugar from India. Traders believe that supplies from India would be viable if adequate arrangements are made for land trade to move the sugar.

Pakistan has an advantage in producing various fruits and vegetables particularly mango, guava and citrus fruits while India has an advantage in different agricultural products such as wheat; therefore if trade is opened, both countries will benefit and increase the volume of exports, according to the Chamber.

Both the countries have huge demand for natural gas. Joint ventures can be a possible solution to route imports of gas through joint pipelines from Central Asia. They can also jointly harness and distribute hydropower. Cooperation in water management will increase irrigation benefits, reduce risk of floods, and establish India-Pakistan electric grid system for intra-city transmission of electricity.

Since India is a strong global player in the field of IT, both the countries could enter into joint ventures in software development with regional markets in focus, ASSOCHAM said.

There is scope for joint ventures in the textile industry between India and Pakistan; both countries can carve out areas for themselves based on competitive advantages. Pakistan is one of the leading producers of cotton and textile yarn in the region. Since it produces long-fibre cotton that can be spun and woven in India and sent back to Pakistan for stitching, due to the short distance, there would be lesser freight cost that will ensure quick deliveries and short inventories.

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