Zubair Qureshi Islamabad
Experts from Bangladesh and Pakistan have called for direct air and sea links to enhancing trade and political relations and to promote people-to-people links.
expressed these views while participating in a webinar organized by the Islamabad based think tank “Pakistan House.”
The title of the webinar was “Sharing Future Eco-nomic Progress: Potential Avenues for Collabora-tions between Pakistan and Bangladesh.”
Former Special Secretary Finance, Dr. Ashfaq Hasan Khan while participating as keynote speaker suggested an alternative of SAARC i.e., establishing South Asian Economic Bloc, where the decisions must be based on consensus rather than being dic-tated by the powerful member such as India.
Director General Pakistan House Muhammad Athar Javed said that the webinar was the continuation of previous webinar, which was on the subject of Eco-nomic Cooperation between Pakistan and Bangla-desh.
The sole objective of the latest webinar is to explore opportunities for Pakistan-Bangladesh relations and put forward recommendations. Dr Ashfaq Hassan said the SAARC was no more a vibrant and significant regional organization, that does not mean that one-fifth population of the world should be deprived of regional connectivity.
It is also imperative to note down the role of China in regional connectivity.
China’s Belt Road Initiative has established a re-gional connectivity network that can be beneficial for regional cooperation. Pakistan, Bangladesh along with China’s expertise and resources can util-ize this network for developing a new regional bloc. “Volume of Pak-Bangla trade is fluctuating.
The trade volume has been in the favor of Pakistan. Overall trade with Bangladesh amounts to 1% only remaining the same for years.
There are many pros-pects to collaborate in trade areas but there are cer-tain problems that bar the countries from establish-ing strong trade ties. Most importantly, both pro-duce more or less the same products e.g., cotton oriented. The prospects for economic development will remain stagnant if both countries do not move towards diversifying their trade.” He concluded.
Shibly Abdullah, Accounting and Business Studies Charles Sturt University Australia said that Pak-Bangla FTA could not be processed. Bangladesh is facing trouble with rising prices of yarn import for six months. Pakistan is one of the largest producers of yarn which can be helpful.