ISLAMABAD: United Business Group (UBG) Secretary General Zafar Bakhtawari has 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.
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 (CPEC) will not only determine future trade trends, but will also play a key role in shaping the world’s major trading markets.
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. “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.
He said Afghanistan has a transit trade agreement with Uzbekistan, while Pakistan also has a TTA 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 finalising the Pak-Turkey FTA and asked to be signed as early as possible.
it is pertinent to mention here that nine rounds of bilateral negotiations on the proposed FTA between both sides had been held in the past in different avenues whereas serious and concrete steps needed to be taken for increasing bilateral trade, which has decreased to $650 million from $1billion per year.