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First time after 2013 freeze, Pakistan gets space at Gujarat summit

Ahmedabad: For the first time since 2013, business delegations from Pakistan will be attending the biennial Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit scheduled to be held this time from January 18-20, 2019, the organisers confirmed. According to records reviewed by The Indian Express, at least seven delegations from different regions of Pakistan are expected to take part, making it the largest contingent ever from the country at the summit.

They are among the 52 delegations representing commerce and trade bodies from various countries who have confirmed their participation for the Global Conclave of International Chambers, which is one of the events at the summit.

In 2013, a 22-member delegation from Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry had arrived for the summit and attended a pre-event buyer-seller meet on January 9-10. However, with bilateral tensions rising following the killing of two Indian soldiers in a ceasefire violation at the Mendhar sector of J&K’s Poonch on January 8, the delegation left without attending the main summit on January 12-13.

At the time, the state government cited visa clearances as a reason for the early departure and said that most members had visas only for Ahmedabad while the main event was held in Gandhinagar. Since then, two summits have gone by without any representation from Pakistan.

When contacted, state government officials refused to comment on the issue. But official documents show that Pakistan will be represented by two delegations from Faisalabad, and one each from Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi, Punjab province and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

D Thara, vice-chairperson and managing director of Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), told
reporters that Pakistan was one of the countries from where representatives of trade chambers have been invited.

Asked for details, she said: “All I want to say on this issue is that most of the chambers are coming for the first time.”

At the event, these delegations will be given about 20 minutes for a presentation about themselves and their views on facilitating world trade. They will also be provided opportunities to sign MoUs (Memorandum of Understanding) with other chambers, private enterprises and government agencies.

The Global Conclave of International Chambers is being organised by the Gujarat government in association with industry bodies like the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI). When contacted, Dr Jaimin Vasa, GCCI president, said: “Not just Pakistan, there are 52 chambers coming from 45 countries… We are not concerned about where they are coming from. We are looking for business associations. The basic objective of this event is to discuss business policies and best practices.”

Apart from Pakistan, delegations from China, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan have also confirmed participation this time.