Work underway to enhance trade, connectivity with Central Asia, NA told

The government is working on a policy to enhance trade and connectivity with Central Asia through Afghanistan and Iran and has already taken several measures to materialise this policy.

Federal Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar told the National Assembly on Thursday. He said Pakistan and Afghanistan have finalised and implemented the main operational part of Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA 2021) which would ensure free movement of trucks between the two countries.

He said that an agreement between Uzbekistan and Pakistan on Transit Trade was signed on July 15, 2021 which provides free movement of trucks between Pakistan and Uzbekistan. The transit trade agreements, he added, are also being negotiated with Kazakhstan and Tajikistan while the Pak-Uzbekistan Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) was signed on March 3rd, 2022.

The agreement provides preferential access to products of one country in the market of the other, by eradicating trade barriers. He said the PTA is also being negotiated with Azerbaijan whereas Pakistan has also established Joint Working Groups (JWGs) on Trade with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

The JWGs would help to ensure economic cooperation by holding business forums, exhibitions, seminars and eradicating technical barriers to trade by harmonizing standards. The minister said that Pakistan and Iran have established a framework of Joint Trade Committee, under which economic cooperation in the fields of trade, banking, customs are agreed. In addition, Pakistan and Iran have signed an MOU to establish six joint border markets.

Pakistan has also signed customs and banking cooperation agreements with Uzbekistan, Iran and Afghanistan and had been negotiating Mutual Recognition Agreements with Central Asian Republics on SPS and technical standards.

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