Pak, Uzbek trade deal



IN what could be termed as a historic development which will open new vistas of cooperation, Pakistan and Uzbekistan on Friday at the 8th meeting of intergovernmental commission held in Tashkent signed one billion dollar trade deal to encourage the exchange of goods and services.

The deal has come at a time when Pakistan is faced with serious economic crisis with its foreign exchange merely above three billion dollars. Hence any trade and investment opportunities would come as a boost to the country. Over the last few years, a positive momentum is being seen in relations between Pakistan and the Central Asian States, and a strong desire can be seen on the part of both sides to bolster their cooperation in diverse fields which in fact will be a win-win for their peoples. As regards Uzbekistan, there are immense opportunities of cooperation in the areas of trade, tourism, education, health and energy projects. The geographical locations of both the countries are an important factor that can help in enhancing their bilateral relations.

Both states are located at the cusps of their respective regions and act as connecting points between the resource-rich Central Asian region and the agricultural heartland region of South Asia. This makes the connectivity project especially that of eight billion dollars Trans Afghan railway a more viable one which alone has the potential to change the whole economic landscape of this region. The Uzbek side has most recently shared the feasibility study of this project with Pakistan and we will stress that it needs to be taken forward on a priority basis as improving connectivity in the region will bring more dividends in the form of enhanced trade and tourism activities. The project will connect the landlocked Central Asian States with Pakistani ports for their trade with the outside world. However, peace in the region, particularly Afghanistan, is of utmost importance for any trade, investment and connectivity initiative to succeed. Hence for a better and prosperous future, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Central Asian States should sit together and draw up a future roadmap.