Growth in Pak-Kazakh trade to pave way for regional connectivity
Growth in Pak-Kazakh trade to pave way for regional connectivity

LAHORE: Pakistan and Kazakhstan are striving to enhance bilateral trade and cooperation in diverse sectors to achieve regional connectivity, a diplomat said on Wednesday.

Addressing the members of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) at the Aptma House, Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Pakistan Yerzhan Kistafin said that both the countries enjoy exemplary diplomatic relations, which now needs to be reflected in the volume of bilateral trade and commercial ties.

In the last session of the Pak-Kazakh Inter-Governmental Commission held last year, he said, it was agreed to foster trade and economic relations and three working groups were constituted on economic, energy and regional cooperation.

These groups will hold their sessions in the second and third week of the current month, he said and invited Aptma to attend the meetings of these groups, especially the economic group.

The ambassador expressed the hope that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit, held in Dushanbe last month, would usher in wider regional cooperation in all areas, especially trade and commerce.

The prime minister of Pakistan and the president of Kazakhstan had discussed in detail about the potential of people-to-people contact and economic cooperation.

They had affirmed to strengthen the centuries old relations between the two nations by exploring all evinces, he said.

Ambassador Kistafin stressed that both countries need to focus on transport and logistics to increase the volume of trade and urged the need for cooperation between Customs services to remove hiccups.

Commencement of direct flights between Pakistan and Kazakhstan will enhance trade and business relations, he added.

The envoy also expressed the hope that the peace and stability in Afghanistan would not only increase trade between Pakistan and Kazakhstan but also contribute to the economic development of Afghanistan as a regional transit hub between Central and South Asia.

The current bilateral trade volume of $45 million was hugely low, compared with the real potential of bilateral trade, he said, adding that the alternative route of Karakoram Highway may also be explored for uplifting bilateral trade. However, the Karakorum route becomes inaccessible during the harsh winter season but it can be safely used during the remaining part of the year.

The ambassador offered the possibilities of mutual cooperation in exploring rich hydrocarbon reserves of Kazakhstan for the benefit of both countries.

Pakistan is a promising market with its large population for the foreign investors, including the Kazakhs, he said, adding that the Kazakh investment in the textile sector of Pakistan would be considered because of the high quality and variety of Pakistani textile products.

Speaking on the occasion, Aptma chairman Abdul Rahim Nasir highlighted the strengths and potential of the textile industry of Pakistan.

He said the textile sector is on an upward trajectory with a lofty export target of $21 billion for the current fiscal year as against the actual exports of $15 billion during the last year.

Nasir said that the issues adversely affecting bilateral trade included logistics, obtaining and using letters of credit (LCs) in trade with Kazakhstan, language barriers in labeling the goods in Kazakh or Russian language, difficulties in land route due to the security situation in Afghanistan and delay in signing of the Preferential Trade Agreement.

He urged the need to strengthen the banking channels between the two countries, an early signing of PTA, utilisation of OIC, ECO, and SCO platforms for expansion of bilateral trade, joint investment in the textile industry and the establishment of joint ventures, frequent exchange of trade delegations, synergies in bilateral trade expansion, mutual capacity-building in textile sectors, and bilateral exchange of business delegations to identify trade and investment options as a way forward to solidify trade and investment relations between Pakistan and Kazakhstan.

The Aptma chairman expressed the hope that the business community of the two countries would benefit from TIR to cut cargo costs substantially.

Aptma senior vice chairman Kamran Arshad thanked the ambassador for his visit and held negotiations on various options for boosting bilateral trade and investment.

He expressed the hope that such interactions will create an enabling environment for uplifting commercial and economic cooperation between Pakistan and Kazakhstan.

The increase in the bilateral trade demonstrates the potential of trade between the two brotherly countries, he said and vowed to extend full cooperation from Aptma for achieving the objective of expansion of trade.

He expressed willingness to participate in all the events to explore new vistas and sectors for enhancing bilateral trade.

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