By Mehtab Haider
ISLAMABAD: An Indian business tycoon Jagdish Khattar was born in Pakistan’s city known as Dera Ismail Khan (DI Khan). Khattar is a graduate from St. Stephens and holds a degree in Law. He joined Indian civil service (IAS) but got premature retirement.
Then he joined Maruti Udyog (now Maruti Suzuki) in 1993 as director marketing. He was managing director and the chief executive officer of Maruti from 1999 to 2007 and during his tenure, despite tough competition, Maruti maintained a healthy share of 50 percent in the market.
He again brought major changes and founded another company Carnation Auto in 2008 with the vision to make it India’s largest and independent multi-brand car sales and services network.
Khattar was among the delegates who participated in the two-day conference on Pakistan-India trade in Lahore.
Q: How much is the potential of bilateral trade between the two countries?
Ans: The potential of bilateral trade is huge, but he would not like to give any specific figure. There is a need to put in place right policies and enabling environment then the private sector of the two countries will find ways and means to boost trade.
Q: Can the two countries enhance cooperation by establishing joint ventures in the auto sector?
Ans: Pakistan would have to remove restrictions by relaxing regulations. If the rules are relaxed by ensuring level-playing field then cooperation in the auto sector can be enhanced with the purpose of providing benefits to the consumers.
Citing an example, he said, price of Maruti car is less than Rs200,000 in the Indian currency and when converted into the Pak rupee it stood at Rs350,000.
“But Pakistan will have to remove restrictions by allowing entry of other players into the market,” he added.
He said that his company was involved in auto services, insurances and sale / purchase of old cars and cooperation could be enhanced for rendering these services on the same pattern in Pakistan.
Q: How can investment be enhanced between the two countries?
Ans: Investment would follow trade as investors could be lured into different phases. Infrastructure building is an area where the two countries by establishing government-to-government, as well as by involving private sectors could be explored to bridge the gap of lack of required infrastructure for promoting trade ties between the two countries.
The mega projects, according to him, would provide major benefits because it would establish backward linkages. The private sector would gauge risks involved in terms of regulations and governance structure. “The private sector will not rush for investment in a big way at the beginning and it can be achieved in stages and phases,” he added.
Q: Do you think that the two countries need to sign bilateral investment treaty (BIT)?
Ans: He did not know exactly, but certain prerequisite were needed such as facilitation in visa regime, customs harmonisation and other procedures that could boost investment and trade in a substantial manner.