Entrepreneurs and businesspersons across three regions of Kashmir administered by Pakistan and India met in Thailand over the past few days to discuss crucial issues concerning trade across the Line of Control in Kashmir, with the key focus on improving connectivity across the regions.
Representatives of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Jammu & Kashmir, and Azad Jammu & Kashmir, as well as prominent business leaders, traders and women entrepreneurs from the Line of Control (LoC) region, and Jammu & Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (J&K-JCCI), participated in the three-day meeting held in Bangkok 25 – 27 January, 2018. Convened by Conciliation Resources, the meeting built upon previous such meetings in the past.
Former presidents as well as presidents of the Chambers apprised participants about previous efforts to promote cross-LoC trade. Participants appreciated the efforts and leadership of the past presidents to get the Joint Chamber to this point and sought their continued guidance and support to take the forum’s agenda forward.
The new leadership of the Jammu & Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (J&K-JCCI), a unique cross-border body launched in 2011, assumed office for the new term of 2018 according to the forum’s traditions. Javed Tenga took the position of President, with Rakesh Gupta and Ghulam Murtaza as joint Presidents.
There was a detailed discussion about the support the J&K-JCCI requires to enable it to facilitate cross LoC trade. The Joint Chamber’s officers reiterated their support on the ground to the LoC traders and pledged to play their role in taking recommendations to the respective governments in order to enhance this confidence building measure. They also signed a memorandum of understanding in this regard.
The other attendees including women leaders from the three regions proposed futuristic measures to boost trade and economic and cultural connectivity.
The main ideas discussed to promote the LoC trade were the inclusion of services and advanced banking arrangements to facilitate a better and more effective trade process. All the business leaders agreed to take these ideas forward by talking to the governments of India and Pakistan and building confidence in their respective communities as well as amongst the three Chambers of Commerce and Industries.
That the meeting had to take place in a third country speaks to the difficulties of obtaining visas that Indians and Pakistanis face when trying to visit each other’s territories.