‘Pakistan wants to enhance trade ties with all neighbours including Iran’

  • Finance minister says world should stop creating trade impediments between Pakistan and Iran
  • says CPEC is going to be the center of gravity of the global economy in the 21st century
  • says it is the last time that Pakistan reached out to its friendly countries for help

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umar said on Wednesday that Pakistan wanted to lift trade relations with all its neighbors and regional countries, including Iran, India, and Turkey.

Addressing the 11th annual report, launched by Burky Institute of Public Policy on Wednesday, the minister said that Iran was an important neighbour of Pakistan in the west and the world should stop creating trade impediments between the two countries.

“Whenever the World Bank and other international bodies come to me, they always say that intra-regional trade is extremely important to boost economic growth, and they also advise me to resume good trade ties with India, but strangely nobody ask me about another our important neighbour in the west, which is Iran,” he said. “Trade impediments have been created between Pakistan and Iran and I fail to understand the criteria fixed in the economic theory that trade with neighbour in the east is good whereas trade with neighbors in the west is not good.”

He hoped that “hypocrisy of the global community will also reduce” with time, adding that the prime minister had already taken an initiative with regard to developing trade relationships with India and hopefully the new leadership of India, after the general election, would give a positive response to the PM’s move.

He said during his visit to Turkey along with the prime minister last week, he met the Turkish vice president and discussed in details ways through which trade bonds between the two countries could be enhanced.

“Our person-to-person and government-to-government bonds are amazing but trade relations do not reflect this kind of relationship,” he added.

He said that in order to transform the Pak-Turk relationship into genuine economic ties, a medium-term strategic economic framework was proposed during that meeting. In this regard, he added, the first meeting was going to be held today (Wednesday) and hopefully, in April, the two countries would sign the framework.

He said that the Pakistani government acknowledged that China and Saudi Arabia had helped Pakistan in difficult times, but it was “the last time that Pakistan reached out to its friendly countries for help”.

With respect to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said the CPEC was a bilateral partnership, but with the consent of both the countries, it had been decided that the third-world countries would also be invited to invest in some of its projects.

He said the government wanted to transform the infrastructural phase of CPEC to a genuine economic corridor. “If we create the trade, knowledge, and industrial linkages, then we would be able to make CPEC a genuine  economic corridor.”

In the second phase of CPEC, he said the private sector would be encouraged to take the driving seat by largely participating in the mega project. He said the CPEC was going to be the center of gravity of the global economy in the 21st century and Pakistan would not just be a beneficiary of regional growth but would also be a contributor to it.

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