ISLAMABAD (APP): Secretary General United Business Group (UBG) of Pakistan Zafar Bakhtawari on Sunday said that Pakistan’s air links with the outside world, especially with regional countries, are crucial for regional trade and economic integration.
Promoting air, land and sea connectivity can make Pakistan a major economic and trade power at the regional level by teaming up with regional countries, especially Central Asian countries, he said this while talking to APP here.
In the recent geo-economic scenario, the ‘Gwadar Port’ is emerging as a major opportunity not only for regional countries but also for global trade, which will strengthen our trade links with the regional countries and also with the global trade markets.
Even a $60 billion mega project of global and regional significance like China Pakistan Economic Corridor will not only determine future trade trends, but will also play a key role in shaping the world’s major trading markets.
In the first phase of CPEC, infrastructure and energy projects have been successfully completed and in the future, friend countries need to be made partners in CPEC so that Pakistan’s trade and economic relations with these countries can be further strengthened.
He said that the stages of industrial development and common currency of CPEC are currently under completion, which will lead to new ties of China-Pakistan friendship.
He further said that the agriculture sector is also one of the important projects of CPEC, which will usher in a revolution in the agriculture sector in Pakistan.
Zafar said that there is a potential of about $2 billion in bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which can be further enhanced by adding some new sectors.
Peace in Afghanistan is crucial for the development of Pakistan and the mutual trade relations of the countries of the region including Central Asian economies.
He said that recently Pakistan and Afghanistan have revived the Protocol for Six-month extension of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement 2010 (APTTA).
“Our trade must be based on secure, open, consistent, reliable and legal movement of goods at the Afghan border along with enhanced connectivity with Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs}”, he said.
Zafar Bakhtawari said during recent visit of Prime Minister imran Khan, Pakistan Transit Trade (AUPTT) was signed in Tashkent, between Pakistan and Uzbekistan and adding that Uzbekistan is a land locked country having borders with Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
He said that under the Agreement, Transit trade between Uzbekistan and Pakistan will take place along predetermined routes and only utilizing specified ports and border crossings.
He said that Uzbekistan and Pakistan are obligated to ensure that suitable infrastructure and personnel are available at border crossings and will provide separate spaces for off-dock terminals and warehousing.
He said Afghanistan has a transit trade agreement with Uzbekistan, while Pakistan also has a Transit Trade Agreement with Afghanistan.
Therefore, the Transit Trade Agreement with Uzbekistan can provide opportunities to Pakistani exports to reach the potential $ 100 billion market in Central Asia.
He informed that currently Uzbekistan is highly dependent on the Iranian seaport of ‘Bandar Abbas’, accessed through Turkmenistan.
Replying to a question on the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Turkey, a senior business leader stressed the need for finalizing the Pak- Turkey FTA and asked to be signed as much earlier possible.
Nine rounds of bilateral negotiations on the proposed FTA between both sides had been held in the past in different avenues and hoped the FTA could be signed by this government.
He said that more serious and concrete steps needed to be taken for increasing bilateral trade, which had decreased to $650 million from $1billion per year.
He said the Turkish government, business community and the people in general gave great importance and respect to Pakistan and its citizens.