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September 10, 2020

Pakistan to have access to Central Asia for its products through China

National

September 10, 2020

ISLAMABAD: In a major development, Pakistan has decided to have access to market of Central Asian States through China as Uzbekistan has agreed to become part of the Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement(QTTA) already signed among Pakistan, China, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Sardor Umur Zakov on Investment and Foreign Trade along with a 7-8 member delegation is due today (Thursday) in Islamabad for a one-day visit and will hold a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He will also meet Adviser to the PM on Commerce, Textile and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood and will hold talks to explore more avenues for increasing the bilateral trade between the two countries. The Uzbek delegation will also hold meetings with top officials of the Maritime Ministry, a senior official told The News.

Afghanistan has been, he said, reluctant to provide access to Pakistani products for reaching out to the huge market of Central Asian States as it linked Central Asian States with allowing Indian goods to the market of Afghanistan through land route. The QTTA provides an alternative gateway to Central Asia by completely circumnavigating Afghanistan. Pakistan would use the Karakorum Highway, which connects Gilgit-Baltistan to China’s Xinjiang region which links with Central Asian States. Pakistan would support the desire of Uzbekistan to become part of the QTTA. Uzbekistan has since long been expressing seriousness to join the QTTA, which will enable Pakistan to export its products under QTTA to Central Asia.

During the visit, the official said that Uzbekistan and Pakistan will sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for increasing the bilateral trade between them. And both the countries would also form the Joint Working Group on how to advance on investment and trade.

Earlier in May 2020, Razak Dawood invited the Deputy Prime Minister to visit Pakistan along with a delegation to discuss bilateral economic relations. Razak Dawood reiterated that the trade and investment relations between the two countries will be strengthened through institutional mechanisms and private sector joint ventures.

He said that Uzbekistan is also very keen to invest in Pakistan’s Karachi port as it wants to have access to the market of Middle East countries. The investment in Karachi port will also help increase the regional connectivity for trade among the regional economies. And to this effect, the Uzbek delegation will hold talks with officials of Maritime Ministry in this regard. The bilateral trade between the two countries is not up to the mark as in 2019 trade turnover of Uzbekistan with Pakistan reached more than $122 million. In 2018, the volume was estimated at $98 million while in 2017 it was just $36.6 million. Both the countries, however, have the potential to increase the bilateral trade up to $1 billion in next 5-6 years.

He said that Pakistan can import cotton or cottonseed from Uzbekistan and there is a potential for Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry to export its products to Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan can export oil and gas, minerals and other products to Pakistan. Pakistan is also keen to develop backward and forward linkages in the textile, leather, and agriculture sectors with Uzbekistan.