LAHORE - The Ambassador of Tajikistan Zubaydullo Zubaydov has said that a direct flight between Lahore and Dushanbe is one of the priority areas that are under active consideration to strengthen bilateral trade and economic relations between Pakistan and Tajikistan.

The Ambassador was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Saturday. The LCCI president Farooq Iftikhar, Vice President Mian Abuzar Shad, Honorary Consul Nazir Ahmad Piracha, former Vice President Aftab Vohra, Executive Committee Members Mian Zahid Javed, Mumshad Ali and Husnain Reza Mirza also spoke on the occasion.

While urging LCCI President to constitute a sector-specific delegation to Tajikistan, the Ambassador gave his unequivocal assurance to the business community that the Tajik government is ready to make special arrangements for Pakistani entrepreneurs.

The Ambassador agreed that there exist a lot of trade potential between the two sides and to tap the potential, the Tajik embassy in Pakistan is ready to work out a strategy to expedite dissemination of all trade related information.

The ambassador said that all the issues being faced by Pakistani businessmen would be resolved soon as new rules of business are being framed to facilitate them.

Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that the ECO countries are well placed in terms of their economic potential and can become a major hub of trade and energy. Therefore, this regional grouping of ECO needs to be activated on the lines of EU and ASEAN.

He said that it was very unfortunate Pakistan does not figure prominently among the trading partners of Tajikistan. The major reasons are lack of transportation facilities and absence of developed banking system in Tajikistan.

The volume of trade between the two countries was around US$ 4.6 million in 2009 which increased to US$ 6.9 million in 2010 but last year it dropped to US$ 0.74 million.

The main reason was no more import of cotton that used to be 70 to 80 percent of total imports from Tajikistan. Similarly our exports to Tajikistan which are way below than US$ 1 million are also not keeping the pace.

From 2009 to 2011 our exports are constantly following downward trend. We could only manage to export US$ 975 thousands, US$ 688 thousands and US$ 623 thousands respectively.

Meanwhile, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Saturday appreciated newly appointed Federal Secretary Water and Power Nargis Sethi for launching crash programme involving stick-and-carrot policy, in order to curb electricity theft and increase revenue for circular debt-ridden power sector.

In a statement issued here, the LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that uniform power supply was a long standing demand of the business community and if the decision to supply electricity without discrimination is implemented in letter and spirit, the industrial productions are bound to register visible surge.