ISLAMABAD (APP) - Speakers on Thursday stressed the need to focus on economic connectivity with neighbouring countries to enhance Pakistan’s trade for economic benefits of the people.

Speaking at a seminar on “Regional trade and economic connectivity”, Secretary Commerce Zafar Mehmood said better communication system across the region is vital for country’s economic growth and better output.

Highlighting the importance of regional trade, the Secretary said no country can develop economically without boosting trade with the regional states. “Hopefully we will soon be seeing a breakthrough in enhanced trade liberalization with the regional countries”, he remarked.

Zafar Mehmood dispelled the impression that signing Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with other countries including India would affect the country’s exports. “It was not true because after signing FTA with China, Pakistan’s exports to the country increased from $ 600 million to $1.6 billion”, he said.

The Secretary Commerce added that the seminar was an introductory session for creating awareness among the stakeholders about regional economic connectivity keeping in view the Prime Minister’s decision to declare 2012 as year of regional trade and economic connectivity for Pakistan.

“A series of similar seminars would also be organized to create awareness among all stakeholders and remove impediments in the way to promote regional trade specially the transportation system of the country”, he said. In the next seminar during first week of February, the issue of implementation of transport policy would be discussed along with other problems, he added.

He observed that the transport policy was approved by the then Federal Cabinet in 2007 but could not be implemented. He said the government has also a plan to convene a Regional Conference to address regional trade issues in which ambassadors and other stakeholders of the concerned countries would be invited.

Speaking on the occasion, Irfan Naqvi, a participant of the seminar said Turkey was earning huge foreign exchange by allowing transit trade and Pakistan can also benefit by adopting this policy.

Other speakers mentioned to problems faced by logistics industry in the country and demanded a separate Transport Ministry to address transportation and logistics issues.