Trans-LoC Trade Likely Next Year, Hopes Ramesh
22 October 2007
Srinagar: Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh on Monday expressed the hope that trans-LoC (Line of Control) trade in Jammu and Kashmir would take off in the first half of 2008. 'After truck movement through Wagah, I do not see any reason why the trans-LoC trade cannot start?' The list of items was already exchanged with Pakistan and nine out of 14 were agreed on by both sides. The External Affairs Ministry was waiting for a technical delegation from Pakistan, he said inaugurating the first-ever Kashmir Handicraft Expo here. On the U.S. announcement that it would monitor export of products involving child and forced labour, Mr. Ramesh said, 'There is a perception that in India child labour in handicrafts production is on the rise.' Keeping in view the U.S. share in Indian handicrafts exports - around $ 3 billion - 'we need to take it seriously.' The government was formulating a plan to rid the sector of the stigma. The Commerce Ministry would in the near future hold a meeting with the Ministries of Labour and Child and Women Development in which representatives from all export promotion councils would take part. The States should ensure social audit and could not shirk their responsibility, Mr. Ramesh said. Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said aggressive export promotion measures would be taken to ensure a quantum jump in export earnings from the handicrafts sector, the largest provider of employment in Kashmir. The purpose of holding the buyer-seller meet was to target focussed buyers. Fifty international business tycoons from the U.S., South America, Australia, Europe and the Middle East, apart from an equal number of exporters of Jammu and Kashmir, are participating in the event.