Pakistani textiles, spices and handicrafts have become huge hits at the 30th India International Trade Fair (IITF) in New Delhi. Pakistani traders have reported bumper sales thanks to cash-rich Indian customers.
Ali Noor, a Karachi-based Pakistani businessman dealing in spices and readymade food pastes, said, "This is my first experience at the Trade Fair. It's only three days now and the sales have been great."
The 28-year-old Noor said that Indian customers had huge amounts of disposable income and were willing to shop for quality goods.
"I get a great many number of customers every day. At this rate my stock would be over even before the fair opens for the general public. It's not just me but everyone from the textiles, spices, handicrafts and leather sectors feel the same way."
Although the fair opened Nov 14, it was opened to the general public only after four days during which time only businessmen and those with passes were allowed entry.
Noor's enthusiasm is measurable. He has sold most of his 200-plus cartons of spices and sub-continental culinary preparations he brought from Pakistan.
He said that one reason for such a response could be that the opportunity to buy Pakistani goods comes rarely because of the lack of trade between the two countries. So people stock up when a chance comes their way.
"I see people visit my stall even after they shop for masalas at other Pakistani stalls. This is because they don't get quality Pakistani goods in India. I believe the potential for trade between the two countries is enormous," Noor added.
The Pakistani contingent at the IITF, one of the biggest, 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.
According to Mazhar ul Haq Mufti, director of the Pakistani stalls and assistant secretary to the Karachi-based Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the hunger for Pakistani goods in India was very evident.
This was the reason, he said, for the impressive customer response right from day one of the fair.
"It's fantastic. In spite of high prices of ticket in the business days, we see very good response. We know some Indian customers wait for a year and keep in touch with vendors to bring their favoured textiles and other goods to the fair," Mufti said.
Suhmita Malkhani from east Delhi said her shopping bills at the Pakistani stalls totalled about Rs.8,000, mostly for textiles and handicrafts.
"I have been here since morning and have finished my shopping budget. I bought a lot of textiles, including cloth, shawls, bed covers, sheets and salwars," she said.
Alam, a textile trader from Lahore, expressed similar sentiment, "Sales have zoomed. Indians' love for our textiles is enormous. I wish we had brought a bigger stock. We are even getting several dealership inquiries."
Alam too is on the verge of exhausting his stock. He feels it would have been much better if Pakistani and Indian traders could sell their goods all year long in both countries.
"We have finished almost everything, and the general public is only starting to come," he said.
Noor is a delighted man.
"Indians are a beautiful people. They come not just to buy but also to inquire about the state of our country with a lot concern and care. Right now Pakistan is going trough some tough times but people from both sides have a lot of love to share," Noor told said.