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Traders in easy visa cry

New Delhi, July 8: Businessmen in India and Pakistan want visas to be issued more freely, to be valid for at least a year and to cover all cities. Nor do they want to report to police when they arrive in town.

In a joint recommendation to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today, Indian and Pakistani business delegations said the “condition of same point of entry and exit should be waived”.

A Pakistani business delegation is here to discuss ways to improve trade ties which have suffered because of the stand-off between the two countries following the December 2001 attack on Parliament.

Members of the India-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry have demanded regularisation of bilateral trade which they say will result in an increase in trade volume.

They also sought reduction in transportation costs and time.

The members say trade will lead to an increase in government revenue and enhancement of consumer welfare.

Both sides said transport and communication links need to be restored. “Efficient and cost-effective transportation and communication is a pre-requisite for promotion of trade and commerce and movement of goods, services and people” the paper submitted to the Prime Minister said.

The businessmen said rail, air, sea and road links between the neighbours ought to be restored immediately.

Continuous initiatives and efforts are on to make regional trade blocs an effective tool for enhancing competitive strength in sale of goods and services globally, the paper noted.

The neighbours are realising the need to make the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation achieve its objective of promoting trade and commerce between member states.

“Safta (Saarc Free Trade Agreement), which is awaiting to be signed since 2002, should be signed and implemented at the earliest,” the businessmen said.

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