With a view to cementing trade ties between Pakistan and India, one of Pakistan’s largest business conglomerates, the Dewan Group, is in talks for joint ventures with Indian investors for its cement and fibre business, sources close to the conglomerate said here on Saturday.
According to these sources, the Dewan Group is presently looking to sign export agreements with Indians and has already got the loans of Dewan Salman Fibre rescheduled on the basis of these assurances. The group has also begun restructuring its existing plants and expects to re-launch its products in the local market in the coming days.
An Indian delegation has recently visited the Dewan cement facilities and, according to insiders, not only did they express satisfaction over what they saw but also concluded a deal for the import of cement. Talk of deals for the import of fibre is underway. The Dewan Group is also said to be in the process of finalising a joint venture with a US-based company for the production of cars at its assembling plant.
The plant was earlier closed after posting significant losses but, after a visit by the US delegation, was upgraded as a precondition to the deal.
“After the restructuring of the plant, the Dewan Group will re-launch its new line of vehicles in the local market,” said one source close to the group. The Indians were also interested in Pakistan’s auto sector.
Irfan Qaiser, the president of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, termed the Indian investment deal a major breakthrough and expressed the hope that further investment would follow.
“The Indians are also interested in dealing with other leading Pakistani groups, working in various sectors,” he added.
Pakistani and Indian governments are interested in the consolidation of trade and investment ties and New Delhi recently overturned a ban on investment from Pakistan. The Meanwhile, Bestway Group has, through its majority ownership of the United Bank Limited of Pakistan (UBL), been granted permission to begin banking operations in India. This is seen as an important step forward to bolster trade between Pakistan and India and was announced by the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Yaseen Anwar.
Zameer Chaudrey, the Bestway Group chief executive said on Saturday: We are delighted that the State Bank has approved UBL’s request to begin branch operations in India. We view this as a tremendous opportunity to enhance and deepen the existing ties between the two countries and believe that UBL’s entry into the Indian market will serve as a major catalyst for this.”
He said the group, with headquarters in London, is grateful to the government and regulator for this timely decision.