New Delhi: Taking advantage of a recent surge in trade initiatives, Pakistan is holding an exhibition of fashion and lifestyle products in New Delhi this week.
Billed as the first show in India of Pakistani lifestyle products, the four-day exhibition has been organized by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) in collaboration with the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation.
The exhibition will showcase fabrics, designer wear, leather and furniture products, and jewellery by more than 100 exhibitors and will be inaugurated on 12 April by the trade ministers of Pakistan and India—Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Anand Sharma.
“These are the top brands of Pakistan and this is high-end fashion and creative work being brought to India,” Tariq Puri, chief executive of TDAP, said on Tuesday. “We have never had so many brands and quality people under one roof. We are keen to translate the cultural and social affinity and the strong connect between the people of India and Pakistan into expanded bilateral trade and commercial relations.”
The Pakistani lifestyle exhibition follows a three-day India show organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry lobby group in Lahore in February.
Among those exhibiting their products in New Delhi are Gul Ahmed, Alkaram, Hub Leather, Khaadi, Junaid Jamshed Lawn, Orient Textiles and Nishat Textiles.
Among the designers showcasing their work is Faiza Samee, who is said to have designed former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s 1987 wedding outfit.
Putting the development in context, Puri said the organization of the exhibition should be seen against the backdrop of efforts to normalise trade ties with India.
He was referring to Pakistan announcing in February a trimmed down negative list of products that would not be traded with India.
The move is seen as a step towards granting India a most favoured nation status under the World Trade Organization rules.
India had granted Pakistan a similar status in 1996 but Pakistan had resisted reciprocating the gesture, saying that normalization of trade relations was possible only after the dispute over Kashmir— that has bedevilled ties for more than 60 years—was resolved.
Trade between the South Asian neighbours stands at $2.7 billion but trade through third countries is much higher—a point Puri flagged, hoping that recent policy changes and the proposed exhibition would help formalise trade at the bilateral level.
Besides lifestyle products, Puri said he had also brought along a delegation of rice traders from Pakistan who were interested in buying machinery and equipment. The rice traders met their Indian counterparts on Tuesday.
Both countries have been locked in litigation over the ownership of the super basmati brand of fragrant rice for many years.
Reports in the Pakistani media have cited traders’ associations saying basmati exported from that country was re-packed in the Gulf nations and sold as a product of Indian origin.
Puri urged the rice exporters to work together to settle differences over the registration of basmati rice as geographical indication (GI) under WTO rules.
Globally, GI is given to products with a reputation attributable to its place of origin or the area where it is manufactured. GI is highlighted during the marketing of the product to fetch a higher price.