To tap into an over $90 billion Central Asian export market, Pakistan is planning to sign transit and preferential trade agreements (PTA) during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Uzbekistan later this month to attend the ‘Silk Route Connect’ Conference, Khan’s commerce adviser has said.
The summit, which will take place in Tashkent on July 15-16, was conceived by Pakistan’s commerce ministry earlier this year and is being organized by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP). Khan is expected to leave for Uzbekistan on July 13 or 14.
“During the visit of the prime minister, Pakistan and Uzbekistan will sign a number of agreements, including Transit and PTA,” Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to the PM on commerce, told Arab News in an exclusive interview in Islamabad, estimating that trade potential for the export of goods between Asian countries and Uzbekistan stood at over $90 billion.
Dawood said signing the PTA would help Pakistan diversify its export market outside of Europe and the United States.
“Pakistani exporters have been concentrating on Europe, UK, America, Japan and Korea but there is a much bigger world so one of our policies is to look at the Central Asia republics and that is why we have selected this ‘Silk Route Reconnect’ theme and we have selected Uzbekistan,” the commerce adviser said. “Uzbekistan is the only country that is connected with all Central Asian countries and they have very good infrastructure.”
Dawood added: “We are hopeful once we begin in Uzbekistan in July 2021 and our businesspeople settle in, we would be able to have more and more exports not only to Uzbekistan but to other Central Asian republics.”
The PM’s aide said Islamabad and Tashkent had agreed to set up warehouses in their respective countries for the facilitation of trade: “Dedicated space in Gwadar and Tashkent would be allocated for setting up warehouses.”
In May this year, the first TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers/ International Road Transport) vehicle successfully crossed into Pakistan carrying goods from Uzbekistan via Afghanistan.
“After the successful trial of TIR we are planning to increase the flow of goods among the Asian countries”, Dawood said.
The PM’s adviser did not rule out the possibility of Pakistan accessing Moscow through land routes via Central Asian countries where the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) have set up road and railway infrastructure links with Russia.
Source of the news: https://www.arabnews.pk/node/1889236/pakistan