Indian High Commissioner Sharat Shabharwal has said that the government of Pakistan has given an assurance that all items will be importable through the Wagha border very soon.

Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday, the Indian diplomat said presently only 138 items could be imported through WaghaAttari land route. `Once the restriction is lifted, India will cut down its Safta Sensitive list by 30 per cent and by April 2013 this list would be curtailed to only 100 tariff lines and the peak tariff will not be more than 5 per cent,` he added.

The High Commissioner said that Pakistan could import petroleum products besides having LNG through a very short pipeline.

Over the issue of non-tariff barriers (NTBs), Shabharwal said on the identification of government of Pakistan, India focused on customs facilitation, laboratories for sampling certification and redressal of business community`s grievances. He said that intraregion trade was very low as compared to Asean and EU.`We are doing less than five per cent trade in this region while ASEAN are doing 25 per cent and EU is at 65 per cent, he said. The Indian HC said that Pakistan and India should move in a manner to create a win-win situation for the stakeholders in two countries.

Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that regular exchange of delegations would positively impact the normalization of trade and economic relations between Pakistan & India. He said the potential gains from increased economic integration were large whereas the trade between the two countries was unnaturally small.

`We believe that opening trade with India will present countless opportunities to both the countries,` he said.

The LCCI President again invited the attention of the High Commissioner towards the non-tariff barriers that were creating enormous problems for Pakistani exporters.

The earliest removal of nontariff barriers would largely consolidate the efforts.

Iftikhar said the business community was not fully aware of Indian standards and qualityparameters which also varied from city to city.

He said that those were needed to be brought to the limelight for the larger interests of trade and industry.

He said it took much more than routine time while clearing shipments exported to India from Pakistan while there were complaints about banishment of export shipments from Indian territory for not been able to fulfill all the conditions of Indian authorities.

`It includes various permits, phyto-sanitary certificates, licensing requirement, NOCs, lab testing reports, health and safety regulations and many more,` he said.

He said that Joint Business Council formed by the Governments of Punjab and government of Indian Punjab would not only facilitate PakIndia trade but could also address these issues with a more practical approach.

Last year, Pakistan`s imports from India were almost six times more than its exports. The unfavourable trade balance with India is not an issue as long as, Pakistan can import goods at cheaper rates from India other than the rest of the world, he said.

Dated: 11-11-2012