Makhdoom Amin Fahim
Minister of Commerce
Q. How are you viewing the developments on the Pakistan-India trade ties front?
A. It is a very positive step that will not only benefit the two individual countries but also the entire region. We are renowned for our textile, leather and sports products, just to name a few. India can benefit and trade with us on these goods.
Q. How do you view the Indian government's decision to allow Pakistani FDI into India?
A. The opening of talks between Pakistan and India has been done in good will and the allowing Pakistani foreign direct investment in India will strengthen ties.
Q. Will Pakistan also be allowing Indian FDI into this country?
A. When we started with our talks, we didn't have any list that we will do this, this and this. We are sorting each issue, one by one, and we are working on each in such a comprehensive manner that there ought to be no need to review them soon.
My Indian counterpart Anand Sharma and I have spoken on various issues; the secretary commerce has met with Indian officials twice and another meeting has been scheduled for later this month to discuss further steps towards improved relations. So we are talking on each topic one by one and that's when we will also discuss this issue.
Q. There is a lot of focus on non-traditional sectors such as hospitality, tourism, education and health. What steps is the government taking to develop these sectors in both countries?
A. Whatever the government does, it will keep the Pakistani business community in mind which has reservations regarding the opening up of trade after the grant of Most Favoured Nation status [to India]. We don't want to hurt our local sectors and so we will ensure our steps are in Pakistan's interest. Furthermore, there are national and international laws which protect local industries when trade is opened up with foreign countries. We will ensure that these rules and regulations are followed to the letter.
Q. Do you think initiatives such as Aman ki Asha help improve Pak-India ties?
A. Aman ki Asha is a good initiative that the media of both the sides has started. Today, the media is a strong, double-edged weapon which can work either towards spreading positive or negative news. At its best, it works in a positive way and influences many people at the same time. We have fought wars, had a long standing rivalry between the two countries, but it didn't help either side. Aman ki Asha is a good initiative to improve Pak-India ties and I fully support it.
Q. What are your expectations from the upcoming business leaders' conference to be held on May 7-8, 2012, in Lahore?
A. It's important that we keep a regular flow of communication for improved ties with our neighbours. There is also a need for a peaceful and happy atmosphere on both sides. We should assist each other and help each other as much as we can.
Special Chief Secretary for Tourism, Andhra Pradesh
Q. How can Pak-India ties be improved?
A. Pakistan and India should promote tourism first to improve on people-to-people contact. There should be an exchange of cultural delegations between the two nations. We are willing to host cultural programs in Andhra Pradesh similar to the Lifestyle Pakistan exhibition that was held in New Delhi. Since we have a similar culture, traditions and language, we should visit each others' countries more often. Once friendly ties are enabled, trade relations can also improve.
Q. What are the investment opportunities in Andhra Pradesh for Pakistanis?
A. There are plenty of investment opportunities in Andhra Pradesh, particularly in the tourism sector as it is rapidly growing and is towering amongst all other states [in India]. Foreign direct investment inflow was over $19.42 billion in 2010-11. Presently, Andhra Pradesh accounts for 23 percent of the national tourist arrivals and 6.6 percent of international tourists. Over the last four years, Andhra Pradesh has facilitated 68 projects involving a total investment of $368.29 million. In all, 88 projects worth $197.56 million have been commissioned by the private sector.
Q. Are the investment policies friendly? In what ways do you facilitate investors?
A. Andhra Pradesh offers several modes of public-private partnerships. Projects are decided and allotted on the basis of competitive bidding or the Swiss challenge method. To facilitate investors, there are municipal concessions and exemptions, financial and non-financial incentives amongst many others.
Q. What are tourism hotspots in Andhra Pradesh?
A. Andhra Pradesh has the world's best beaches, the globe's richest places of worship and lush green forests. The people are hospitable and international cuisine can be found with ease. Heritage structures, manmade wonders and historical monuments such as Charminar, Golconda Fort, Ramoji Film City, Araku Valley, Borra Caves and Tirupati Balaji Temple are recommended. These spots also offer investment opportunities for developers and investors.
Q. The south of India is not promoted as much as the northern parts of India are, especially when it comes to tourism, trade and investment. Why is this?
A. It is true that the southern part of India has not been promoted as much as it should have been. We have a rich history and a lot of investment opportunities, but they have not been publicised for foreign investors. Our aim is now to promote them as much as possible and in view of this aim, we invite the Pakistani people to also visit our state and look for opportunities. We would be interested in inviting a Pakistani delegation to our capital Hyderabad in particular to discuss the strengthening of ties and the exchange of cultural delegations. n
The writer is a staff member.
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