Pakistan and Tajikistan on Friday agreed that true potential of the proposed Pakistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan Transit Trade Agreement could be explored to the fullest only if the two sides start negotiations on Preferential Trade Agreement between the two countries.

Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan held a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan, Sirodjidin Aslov in Islamabad.  Dastgir proposed signing of an MoU (memorandum of understanding) between Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and the trade promotion organisation of Tajikistan to enhance trade, increase trade exhibitions, simplify trade procedures and limit time for issuance of visas for businessmen of both countries. Commerce Minister said that the Ministry of Commerce will arrange business to business meetings in order to enhance trade and investment in the Textile sector of Tajikistan. Dastgir also proposed the formation of Pakistan-Tajikistan Joint Business Council so that direct business to business contacts may established to avail any opportunity swiftly.

Sirodjidin Aslov proposed the establishment of rail and road network which would link Tajikistan with the southern ports of Pakistan and help their land-locked country to trade with the world through sea. To ensure food security of Tajikistan, Aslov sought to increase agricultural imports from Pakistan as only 7pc of the land of Tajikistan is available for crop cultivation.

He proposed that there is a demand of wheat and potato seeds and processed sugar in Tajikistan which Pakistan may export to Tajikistan. He invited Pakistani investors to invest in the 5 Free Economic Zones of Tajikistan, four of which are near Afghan and Pakistani border regions. He also sought Pakistani investment in chemical sector as the Tajikistan is rich in minerals but the processing facility is limited and requires financial and technological investment.  Dastgir emphasised that the vision of Prime Minister of Pakistan is to link the regions through infrastructure, mobile phone and financial system connectivity which would be instrumental in the economic uplift of the people of the South and Central Asia.

The CASA-1000 project will be a classic example of economic interdependence between two regions and provide Pakistan with the much eagerly required electricity. The Minister also talked about the desire to create an energy market in the region which could easily be supplied to any country with a deficiency once the grid is established.