Enhancement of regional trade

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ADVISER to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood has said that the government is prioritizing enhancement of regional trade and connectivity in a bid to linking the entire region through improvement in Pakistan-Afghanistan transit trade. Speaking at a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Commerce on Monday, the Adviser reaffirmed the leadership’s commitment to enhancing trade and economic ties with Afghanistan for increasing regional integration.
Regional trade has many advantages including easy access to each other’s market, lower transportation charges and reduced time gap for imports and exports, creation of more employment opportunities and possibilities of barter trade. However, much depends on actual implementation of such arrangements as we have witnessed in the case of Pak-Afghan Transit Trade that it is widely misused harming the economy of Pakistan. We also have a regional cooperation entity of SAARC, which aims at enhancing regional trade but this could not take off due to unilateral actions of India, which wants to dominate and dictate the region. The Adviser has not explained what he meant by enhancing regional trade and connectivity through improvement in transit trade arrangement with Afghanistan but inclusion of India in the agreement as has been demanded by New Delhi and advocated by the United States and other well-wishers of India would be counter-productive until and unless political issues are resolved in a just manner and India shows readiness to dismantle visible and invisible trade barriers. If there is honesty of purpose on the part of India then the question arises why New Delhi is not joining China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is the single-most important platform for regional economic connectivity. Then one may ask why India withdrew from the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, which was originally Iran-Pakistan-India project. One would welcome expansion of regional trade and connectivity ventures provided there is a level-playing field for all participating countries. We hope that the authorities concerned would not alter the nature of the transit trade agreement with Afghanistan just to please India and its backers and at the cost of economic losses to Pakistan.

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