Need for closer Pak-Uzbek trade ties stressed

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan and Uzbekistan should focus on exploiting their geographical proximity for promoting bilateral trade and economic relations, said Vladimir Norov, Director, Institute for Strategic and Regional Studies of Uzbekistan during his visit to Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Thursday. Furqat A Sidikov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Pakistan also accompanied the delegation.

Norov said that Uzbekistan had $520 million bilateral trade with Afghanistan and the target was to take it to $1 billion. “However, with Pakistan its trade is just around $24 million despite the fact that both the countries have a great potential to promote trade in many areas. He urged that Pakistan and Uzbekistan should accord high priority to improving two-way trade that would bring many benefits to the people of the two nations.

He said Pakistan and Uzbekistan could cooperate in many fields including textiles, agriculture, energy, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and others.

He said Uzbekistan had set up seven Free Economic Zones with attractive incentives for foreign investors and had envisaged 650 projects involving an investment of $40 billion.

He emphasized that Pakistani investors should explore joint ventures and investment opportunities in Uzbekistan.

Sheikh Amir Waheed, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that Pakistan accorded great importance to its close relations with Uzbekistan and wanted to strengthen these relations in many fields.

He said enhanced mutual cooperation was highly beneficial for both the countries as Uzbekistan could provide to Pakistan easy access to the Central Asian, European and Russian markets while Pakistan could provide to Uzbekistan better access to South Asian, Middle Eastern, African and other markets.

He stressed that both countries should develop strong linkages between their private sectors that was the best approach to exploit all untapped areas of mutual collaboration.

He said Pakistan could export many products to Uzbekistan, including food products, textiles, pharmaceuticals, surgical and sports goods. “Similarly, Uzbekistan could export oil & gas, minerals and other products to Pakistan,” he added.

ICCI president said both the countries could also initiate joint ventures to manufacture various automobiles and industrial goods and could also cooperate in agriculture, energy and other fields.

He urged that strong efforts should be made for the materialization of Pakistan-Afghanistan- Uzbekistan Trilateral Transit Trade Agreement that would remove trade barriers and bring huge benefits to all the parties. He underscored that Uzbekistan should explore JVs and investment in CPEC.

Muhammad Naveed Senior Vice President, Nisar Mirza Vice President ICCI and others also spoke at the occasion and stressed the need of developing strong connectivity between private sectors to further strengthen trade and economic relations between the two brotherly Islamic countries.

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