ISLAMABAD-Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram  Dastgir Khan on Monday said regional trade integration and liberalization  was top priority of the government as it would help revive economy by enhancing trade volume.

Economic revival was the part of Pakistan Muslim League-N’s manifesto, he said addressing a conference on ‘Central Asian Business Opportunities’ here.Khurram Dastgir urged over 250 cross-border business groups and government officials, who were attending the conference, to help identify hurdles in regional trade and their solutions during brainstorming sessions.

He said durable peace in the region was imperative for trade  connectivity and economic integration among Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asian states.

He said Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was taking personal  interest in regional trade integration and to enhance trade with all neighbouring countries, including Afghanistan.He said the government had focused on providing facitilies for traders and industrialists, such as energy and transport means, which would benefit the whole region.

Khurram said for the promotion of regional trade “we need resources and infrastructure.” He urged foreign investors to invest in these sectors, which would not only enhance regional trade and bring prosperity, but also alleviate poverty.The Pak-China Trade Corridor would play a pivotal role for trade connectivity and economic integration of the region, he added. 

He said Gawadar Port provided a big opportunity to all the regional countries, connetcing them with European and other international markets.  Khurram Dastgir said today’s conference was a continuation of Almaty conference in Kazakhstan, where all regional stakeholders had committed for peace, regional trade integration and connectivity.  Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Ministry of Commerce and Industry Muhammad Shehzad Arbab said the conference would focus on regional trade cooperation and economic integration.  He said that Pakistan had important geo-strategic location.

Afghanistan and Central Asian states could take advantage through Gawadar Port and Silk Route to enhance their trade and business activities, he added.

United States Ambassador to Pakistan, Richard G. Olson, said Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asian states could follow regional trade integration like Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and had billions of dollars trade among themselves.  He said the US fully supported the trade and communication linkage between Pakistan and Afghanistan to enhance the trade volume among all the regional countries. He said the regional countries could be fulfill their needs of energy from energy rich areas of Central Asia.