Pakistan-Uzbekistan to enter new era of regional connectivity; trade, economic cooperation
ZUBAIR QURESHI TASHKENT
Prime Minister Imran Khan is leading a high profile delegation to attend a historic summit hosted by Uzbekistan in its capital Tashkent on Thursday (today).
The main goal of the forum is to strengthen historically close and friendly ties, trust and good-neighborliness between the states of Central and South Asia in the interests of all peoples and countries of both regions.
The international conference named “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities” will take place in Tashkent from July 15-16 as an initiative of the President of Uzbekistan.
The conference will be addressed by President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Imran Khan, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, foreign ministers and high representatives of the countries of the Central and South Asia, other foreign states, heads of international and regional organizations, global financial institutions and companies, leading research and analytical centers.
During the plenary and breakout sessions, the forum participants will discuss the possibilities of promoting initiatives aimed at developing trade, economic, transport, communication and cultural and humanitarian cooperation in the context of further deepening regional connectivity.
A day earlier Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood who is already in Uzbekistan addressed a press conference and highlighted some of the dividends Pakistan might gain from the outcome of the summit.
He said Pakistan and Uzbekistan were set to sign an agreement on transit trade that will shift the entire trade of the latter from Iranian Port Bandar Abbas to Pakistan seaports.
In this regard, Prime Minister Imran Khan is going to attend Pakistan-Uzbekistan “Silk Route Reconnect” Business Forum on July 15-16, 2021 on the sidelines of the international summit.
Pakistan and Uzbekistan would also sign Agreement between Uzbekistan and Pakistan on Transit Trade (AUPTT), he indicated.
Pakistan is expecting to tap the potential $90 billion after the agreement, which will provide all Central Asian States access to Pakistani sea ports, mainly Gwadar Port.
An official of the commerce ministry said that Uzbekistan is currently highly reliant on the Iranian seaport of Bandar Abbas, accessed through Turkmenistan but they also had a transit trade agreement with Afghanistan while Pakistan also had Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).
The AUPTT would give access of Pakistani seaports to Uzbekistan and offer the access to all five Central Asian States for Pakistani exports.
This would help in enhancing trade and regional connectivity and open doors for increasing Pakistan’s exports to Uzbekistan, while harnessing the potential of a $90 billion market in Central Asia.
According to an official of the Commerce Division, the APTTA 2010 gave access to Pakistan’s trade with Central Asia for taking goods up to the border crossing points of Afghanistan with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, whereas, Pakistan had no arrangement to take exports beyond those points.
While talking to Pakistan Observer, a senior official of the Uzbekistan Ministry of the Foreign Affairs said the conference is taking place in line with the vision of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev who wants a more pro-active, enhanced and long-term cooperation among the countries of the Central and South Asia for a greater good and prosperity of the peoples of the region.
Connecting Central Asia with South Asia is a dream of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and the conference will provide a sound footing to realize that dream, said the Uzbek MOFA official.
According to an official of the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan, Prime Minister Khan and President Mirziyoyev had a virtual summit on April 14 and it was decided in principle that Prime Minister Imran Khan woul attend the July 15-16 international conference and share his vision of common prosperity and good of the people.