Envoy hints at possibility of Pak-Uzbek free trade deal

ISLAMABAD – Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Pakistan, Aybek Arif Usmanov has said that the possibility of signing a free trade agreement between Pakistan and Uzbekistan cannot be ruled out.
A Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) has been signed for the promotion of bilateral liberal trade between the two countries, which has a great potential to increase bilateral trade in the future, Ambassador Aybek Arif Usmanov told APP here. The ambassador said that a bilateral PTA and Transit Trade Agreement had been signed between Pakistan and Uzbekistan which also facilitated the movement of land trade between the two countries including trucks.
He said that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Pakistan and Uzbekistan could play a better role in promoting bilateral trade if there was a similar trilateral agreement in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. He said that after signing such an agreement, economic integration in Central Asia and South Asian countries would increase and regional trade also would increase.
He said that regional trade is needed at this time and in regional trade we have the best examples of the European Union (EU) and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) where regional trade and economic connectivity is the best example. Replying to a question, he said that promotion of trade and trade connectivity between Pakistan and Uzbekistan and other Central Asian States is essential for regional trade.
Thus, according to the government policy of the Uzbek government, region to region trade will also be promoted, which will bring the countries of the region into a common trade and economic power.
The envoy said that work was underway on a railway line project between Pakistan and Uzbekistan which was being carried out by engineers and technical staff of both the countries and all the three parties including Afghanistan had agreed to implement it.
The Afghan province of Mazar-e-Sharif is already connected to Uzbekistan by railway line, he said. He added that the railway link between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan would not only link our trade with the countries of the region but also give them access to Euro-Asian and European markets. He also said that he would like to complete all major gas pipeline projects including the Turkmenistan Afghanistan- Pakistan and India (TAPI) for economic and trade integration of the countries of the region. He said that for the energy needs of Pakistan, Central Asia South Asia (CASA-1000) should be completed, which would be able to meet the energy needs. In response to another question, he said that the foundation of economic relations between Pakistan and Uzbekistan was laid by former Prime Minister, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. In the past, bilateral trade was only $20 million, which has now reached $185 million in 2021.
He said that the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) has been signed between Pakistan and Uzbekistan, which will increase bilateral trade. He said the role of Pakistan and Uzbekistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is of paramount importance and is a milestone in regional and global economic integration. Uzbekistan is at the center of Central Asian countries and Pakistan has its own geostrategic importance which can play a significant role in its economic and trade integration in the SCO, he said.

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