Pakistan on Wednesday offered the member states of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to use her seaports for international trade at the meeting of commerce ministers of the organisation in Xian China.
Addressing the gathering, Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan invited the member countries to use Pakistani seaports as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) gets implemented to improve connectivity of the trade routes to Arabian Sea.
The minister informed the gathering that Pakistan had recently acceded to TIR convention to further facilitate intra-regional connectivity which would ensure a more efficient and faster movement of goods across our borders to the countries of Central Asia.
It is important to mention that Pakistan has an observer status at the SCO and is scheduled to become a full member state in January 2016 which will provide new impetus to Pakistan’s relations with the member states.
Dastagir said one of strategic aim was to utilise Pakistan’s unique geo-political position to build trade, energy and communications corridors linking South Asia, West Asia, Central Asia and China.
The minister said Pakistan’s trade strategy focused on developing linkages with their neighbours leveraging their geographical location, and capitalizing on regional connectivity initiatives. He emphasized that cross-border trade was very important for landlocked member countries as Pakistan and the SCO countries would benefit substantially from greater integration through energy, commerce and transit trade.
The CPEC is a landmark initiative under the umbrella of “One Belt One Road” and this economic corridor will connect the nodes of growth centers, falling between Kashgar and Gwadar. The CPEC envisages connectivity and expansion of trade and investment through a network of roads, rail, fiber optic cables, and energy pipelines, he added.
Dastgir was of the view that Pakistan’s geo-strategic position offers Central Asian states access to the warm waters of Arabian Sea and huge markets of South Asia. He said Pakistan provided critical overland routes and connectivity for mutually beneficial trade and energy transactions.
Pakistan has undertaken several initiatives which include rebooting of Quadrilateral Agreement for Traffic in Transit (QTTA) between China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan and Pakistan. The QTTA provides Pakistan a gateway to Central Asia and the landlocked Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan access to Pakistani seaports via CPEC.
The SCO members include China, Kazakhastan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has visited all the countries in SCO after assuming office to develop strong political, economic and trade ties with these countries.