Pakistan and Uzbekistan hold cordial bilateral ties as two brotherly nations. The geographical location of Pakistan makes it an important country particularly in terms of trade routes through land and sea whereas Uzbekistan can serve as a gateway to the huge markets of Central Asia, Europe and Russia. Pakistan and Uzbekistan should focus on exploiting their geographical proximity for promoting bilateral trade and economic relations to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome for their economies, said Institute for Strategic and Regional Studies of Uzbekistan Director Vladimir Norov.
A high level delegation from Uzbekistan paid a visit to Islamabad Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ICCI). The delegation was headed by Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Pakistan, H.E. Furqat A. Sidikov alongwith Director, Institute for Strategic and Regional Studies of Uzbekistan (ISRS), Vladimir Norov. The delegation held meetings with the business community stressing the need for enhancing bilateral trade and economic relations to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes for their trade and economic interests. President Center for Global and Strategic Studies of Pakistan (CGSS), Major General (Retd) Khalid Amir Jaffery also accompanied them.
Director ISRS, Vladimir Norov said that Uzbekistan and Pakistan have huge potential in terms of trade and investment and the two countries should work together to exploit it fully.
He said that Uzbekistan’s trade with Pakistan was just around $ 24 million despite the fact that both countries enjoy close bilateral ties. He noted that the volume of bilateral trade between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan was $ 520 million and we aim at taking it to $ 1 billion. He urged that Pakistan and Uzbekistan should accord high priority to improving two-way trade that would bring many benefits to the people of two nations.
He added that Pakistan and Uzbekistan could cooperate in many fields including textiles, agriculture, energy, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and others. “Uzbekistan has established seven free economic zones with attractive incentives for foreign investors and has envisaged 650 projects involving an investment of $40 billion,” he pointed out. The director emphasised that Pakistani investors should collaborate through joint ventures and explore investment opportunities in Uzbekistan.
The Ambassador of Uzbekistan said that over the years both Pakistan and Uzbekistan have successfully developed excellent diplomatic relations. “Uzbekistan Government is keen to further strengthen these ties by extending cooperation in multiple areas including political, defence and economic sector such as trade, energy and agriculture”, he added.
Speaking at the occasion, 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 countries as Uzbekistan could provide easy access to Pakistan to Central Asian, European and Russian markets while Pakistan could provide better access to Uzbekistan to South Asia, Middle East, Africa 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. “Both countries could also promote joint ventures to manufacture various vehicles and industrial goods and can also cooperate in agriculture, energy and other fields,” he added.
President ICCI 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 a vast number of business opportunities in CPEC which will not only serve as a medium for prosperous economic growth for Pakistan but will also help Uzbekistan cut its transit costs by transporting its goods through Gwadar seaport.
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.