Pakistan proposes Uzbekistan to explore opportunities for joint ventures in textile sector also extended invitation to both public and private sector of Uzbekistan to organize a single country exhibition in Karachi or Lahore which were the commercial hubs of Pakistan, amid expectation that regional trade can provide opportunities to both the economies.
Commerce minister Khurram Dastgir Khan while chairing a meeting with a high level Uzbek delegation headed by Ulugbek Rozukulov, Deputy of the Prime Minister of Republic of Uzbekistan on Thursday gave the invitation.
In order to realize the vision of regional connectivity for enhanced economic integration and to follow up on initiatives taken during the Prime Ministerâ€™s recent visits to central Asian countries, the Ministry of Commerce has chalked out a comprehensive plan for trade promotion exclusively focused on Central Asia. The minister welcoming the Uzbekistan delegation said that the visit would help promote trade and economic relations between the two countries.
The minister said that the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Uzbekistan was not reflective of the true potential. Uzbekistan is a country of about 32 million people with exports $13.32 billion (2014 estimate) and imports of $12.5 billion (2014 estimate).
The trade volume between the two countries was $3.92 million in 2015-16 which increased from $2.98 million in 2014-15. Pakistanâ€™s exports to Uzbekistan have witnessed marginal increase from $1.347 million in 2014-15 to $2.07 million in 2015-16, while imports from Uzbekistan have also slightly increased from $1.56 million to $1.843 million during the same period.
The major export commodities include cotton, textiles, energy products, gold, minerals, fertilisers, ferrous and nonferrous metals, foodstuffs, machinery, and automobiles while the major import commodities include machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, ferrous and nonferrous metals.
But there are certain issues that hampered the expansion of bilateral trade, like lack of direct cargo links, safe and direct land routes, marketing strategies, knowledge of Pakistani products, visa facilitation and costlier transportation by air.
The minister said that the barriers and challenges are there, but they have to work together to remove the barriers and facilitate the trade.
The minister informed the delegation that Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and the Uzbek Ministry of Economic Affair and Investment has already been signed. The MoU aimed to promote and develop trade links between the two countries. In this regard, a Central Asia Trade Caravan/Roadshow including single country exhibition has been planned to be held in the 1st quarter of 2017.
The Uzbek Prime Ministerâ€™s deputy Rozukulov Ulugbek appreciated the efforts and steps taken by the ministry of commerce and government of Pakistan for the promotion of bilateral trade and assured of Uzbekistanâ€™s full support. Ulugbek informed the minister that Special Economic Zones have been created in Uzbekistan with zero tariffs and Pakistani investors could benefit from the facility.
However, there is also a need to revive the forum of Joint Commission and the next session may be held soon.
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