More Pakistani banks can apply for India operation under the ongoing talks for strengthening economic relations between the two countries, said Naeem Anwar, Minister (Trade) at Pakistan High Commission in India, on Sunday.
“Two Pakistani banks have applied for opening up branches in India, reciprocating three Indian banks that have intended to open their branches in Pakistan,” he said, adding that the banks in the two countries have been advised to finalise their documentation process by November 30 to make them operational by April 1, 2013.
The United Bank Limited (UBL) and the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) from Pakistan are in the process to open branches in India, in reciprocating three Indian banks, including the Reserve Bank of India (commercial operation), Bank of India and the Punjab National Bank have initiated the process.
Addressing members of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) at a meeting, he said that the trade bodies should prepare themselves for huge influx of Indian products after completion of talks for trade liberalisation between the two countries.
He lamented that the trade bodies in Pakistan have no in-house mechanism for product information. “In contrast, the trade bodies in India are well aware about their imports and exports,” he added.
Anwar said that in the recent joint commerce secretary-level meetings it was decided that India will reduce duty for Pakistani products up to five per cent by April 13, except for 100 tariff lines, as it had allowed for South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) countries.
“Similarly, Pakistan would also reduce to 100 tariff lines for India products by 2017,” he added.
At present for accessing the Indian markets, he said, Pakistani products face high duty rates. Meanwhile, Pakistani textile and agro-based products are facing 30-250 per cent duty rates, he added.
He also urged the local businessmen to explore Indian market in a scenario after April 2013, as it has big markets.
He said that the trade community should think about enhancing exports to India in a strategic way instead of opportunist approach. “Pakistani traders need intellectual work on the issue, whereas their counterparts have strong homework,” he added.
About visa restriction, he said that the commerce secretaries have agreed on two categories for the business community. However, the Indian side was emphasising that the declaration of the income tax return of a businessman should be made mandatory for allowing visa, he added.
Regarding, opening Munabao-Khokhrapar border, he said that the two countries have discussed the issue and ready to open it.