Several Pakistani stalls remain vacant at trade fair

November 15th, 2008 - 3:39 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 15 (IANS) Pakistan is partner country at this year’s India International Trade Fair that opened Friday, but its exhibitors complain that cumbersome procedures have kept a third of their allotted 75-odd stalls vacant.Their reason: the merchandise is yet to be cleared by the customs department, with as many as 40 containers stranded at the Wagah-Attari border post alone.

“Out of 14 days of the exhibition, if four are lost in getting our material cleared, how do you think we will do business?” lamented Parveen Uinkahim, one of the exhibitors from Pakistan who is into garments and apparel.

“Clearance certificate is a very important document to get on time. But despite making arrangements almost a month back, we are yet to receive the goods,” Uinkahim told IANS.

Even Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik has complained that the exhibitors from Pakistan faced problems with Indian customs officials and hoped the matter would be sorted out soon.

“Our exhibitors have come all the way from Pakistan. But they have been facing immense problems in terms of getting the items released for putting up at the stalls,” he said.

A spokesperson for the organisers, the commerce ministry-promoted India Trade Promotion Organisation, said that they were aware that some participants were facing problems and assured that the matter would be sorted out soon.

But those who managed to bring their merchandise to the sprawling Pragati Maidan exposition grounds, including condiments, spices, cosmetics, curios, marble, ceramics and furnishing, hoped to do brisk business during the 14-day fair.

“We always get good business from India. It’s a very diverse market. If explored properly, it’s like a golden goose,” said Mohammad Hashmi, a trader of herbal eye-care products.

Hashmi said he also planned a franchise pact with a leading north Indian snacks chain to open similar food outlets in Pakistan, especially to serve chole bhature - a Punjabi delicacy of fried bread served with spiced chickpea.

Nearly two-thirds of the Pakistani stalls are exhibiting garments and apparel like before, though this time around, they are worried because of competition from Indian, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan and Chinese counterparts.

“The competition will be tough. There are many players. But we plan to give discounts and make lucrative offers,” said Imran Ahmed.

The favourite among the visitors remains the Pakistani chikan, similar to what is famous in Lucknow in India. Clothes made from this light, cotton fabric, laced with traditional embroidery, are selling for as low as Rs.500 a piece.

A representative of Ambers Collection in Karachi also said that people who come to their stalls were really excited by the range of apparel on display, adding they had understood by now what designs, colours and fabric to offer.

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