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CII red carpet for Pakistan delegation

New Delhi, Sept. 13: The country’s two apex chambers are locked in a one-upmanship game to woo business from across the border.

If it was Ficci which laid out the red carpet at Wagah for visiting Pakistani businessmen in July, today it was the turn of CII to do the same.

A 12-member Pakistani business delegation entered India through the Wagah border this afternoon and CII arranged for a specially chartered Jet Airways flight to fly the delegation down to Delhi from Amritsar, which is about 30 km from the border checkpoint.

Ficci had opted for the more modest air-conditioned Shatabdi Express in July.

CII’s guests include tractor maker Sikander Mustafa Khan, sugar baron Aslam Faruque, ICI Pakistan's chief Asif Jsooma and Siemens Pakistan's managing director Sohail Siddiqui.

Welcoming the businessmen, CII president Anand Mahindra said, “It is important that none of us raises expectations too high. We have to measure every step we take.”

But unfortunately for both the chambers, their attempts at using track II diplomacy to prise open the trade barriers is being stonewalled by suspicious bureaucrats and politicians who refuse to expand the list of tradeable goods or even to grant visas easily. And terror attacks from accross the border are not helping much.

But the biggest trade block is the Pakistani refusal to grant India the MFN or much favoured nation status.

As members of the WTO, both countries have to allow imports from each other at the lowest customs duty offered to any other nation.

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