Pakistani traders do brisk business at trade fair

New Delhi : Traditional cotton textiles with embroidery, aromatic spices and handicrafts are among a wide array of goods that have emerged as huge hits for the Pakistani contingent at the annual India International Trade Fair (IITF) as they reported brisk sales even during the business days.

“I have been receiving good response from customers, whose numbers keep on increasing even on business days,” Sayyada Dhanji, partner in the textile firm Mars Hoor Gallery, said .

According to the Karachi-based businesswoman, who has been coming to India since 1998, the cultural similarities between people of the two countries, especially in clothing, attracts Indian customers.

“This is not unusual as it always happens with Pakistani goods, be it textiles, spices, handicrafts and leather products. I am expecting a sell-out during the public days (that started Saturday),” she said.

Noting the most favoured nation (MFN) status being granted to India by her country, Dhanji said that she expected her business to increase in India.

The Pakistani cabinet Nov 2 decided to grant MFN status to India, 15 years after India gave Pakistan a similar status, thus loosening import restrictions on Indian goods.

“I have always dreamt of a day when I can sell my products at competitive rates and now with MFN, I do not need to wait for IITF every year… I am ready to sell throughout the year in India,” Dhanji added.

One of the biggest foreign contingents at the IITF, the 70-strong Pakistani presence includes textile firms like Laila Art, Rohhirung and Nadia’s, and handicraft goods maker Warsi Impex, which have been coming to India for over a decade.

Uttam Bhagat, 25, a south Delhi resident, said that his shopping list from the Pakistani stalls includes textiles and traditional Lahori footwear, but his only worry is not to overshoot his budget.

Apart from textiles, four major Pakistani players in the food ingredients business (spices, ready-made pastes and masalas, among other items) also reported good sales and expected their stock to finish soon.

“We got in a container worth of masalas here and sales have been brisk. We do hope for a complete sell-off in the first 10 days. Last time also, we sold off everything,” Habib Oil Mills marketing manager Mustafa Hassan Qureshi said .

According to Qureshi, apart from sales, the IITF gave a great platform to forge business relationship that accounts for huge numbers of after-orders.

“The ultimate objective of any trader is to introduce his goods, as well as to find a distributor and a retailer here. Because this is where the real potential of business lies… as it accounts for large orders,” he said.

Qureshi said that so keen were Pakistani companies to cater to the Indian market that they also tinkered with masalas to suit the Indians’ taste.

“We have especially developed four to five types of masalas for the Indian market. They include pao bhaji, chole and curry masalas. The masalas can go well with vegetarian food as well as non-vegetarian food,” Qureshi said.

It’s not just spices but kababs and biryani from Karachi are also a hit at IITF, as scores of people lined up at the Al-Haj Bundu Khan food stall to satisfy their taste buds with the luscious and tempting array of food on offer.

“It is the love of Indian foodies that draws me here again and again. Thousands have enjoyed our traditional kababs, biryanis and Karachi halwas,” Shahid A. Bundu Khan of the famous chain of restaurants said .

The IITF began Nov 14 and ends Nov 27.

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