DISCOURAGED BY their visas being rejected for the last two years, Pakistani traders have not sent any names for participation in the Punjab International Trade Expo (PITEX), 2019, which is set to begin in Amritsar Thursday.
“In the past we had participation of more than 150 traders in this annual international trade festival. We organise PITEX in Amritsar to encourage trade between East and West Punjabs. But our efforts are falling apart since the last two years as the Ministry of External Affairs does not give visa to Pakistani traders,” R S Sachdeva, mentor, Punjab State Chapter, PHDCCI, told The Indian Express.
The 14th edition of PITEX is being organised here by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI).
“This year too we had sent an invitation to Pakistan traders. But they replied that they will not apply for visa as they might be rejected again. They were discouraged as MEA didn’t approve any visa for last two years. It is the first time they have decided not to apply due to expected response of MEA,” said Sachdeva.
He further said, “On one side the Kartarpur Corridor has been opened and Pakistan government has set-up a market alongside gurdwara where devotees love to shop. But the same traders cannot sell their goods by crossing the border. We have asked Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to send a fresh note to the Union government to allow Punjab trade with Pakistan in a changed scenario after the opening of Kartarpur Corridor. Punjab has great trading opportunities with Pakistan. Punjab and Indian government must think about exploring these.”
However, Pakistani products will also be on display and for sale during the event. Five traders have been attending the event as they have SAARC visas.
This time, exhibitors from Afghanistan, Turkey, Thailand and Egypt are also participating in PITEX. States like Jharkhand, J&K, Madhya Pradesh and the North-Eastern states will also be part of the event.
Sachdeva said, “PITEX will be inaugurated on December 12 by Punjab Industries and Commerce Minister Sunder Sham Arora. Apart from leading corporates, PITEX will see participation from PSIEC, GMADA, Punjab Agro Industry Corporation, PEDA, Milkfed, Markfed, amongst others. A number of central government departments are also participating.”
Karan Gilhotra, chairman, Punjab State Chapter, PHDCCI, said there will be a session on ‘Tourism: Fuelling growth and goodwill’ which will be attended by the tour, travel and hospitality industry. Over 400 stalls have been set up in over 20,000 sq mts. Organisers said that there were around 3 lakh visitors last year and this year number is expected to cross 3.5 lakh.
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