Pakistan ambassador to Tajikistan Muhammad Saeed Sarwar on Thursday urged the business community to explore new avenues of trade and investment cooperation with Tajikistan, saying Tajikistan held a huge potential for fast moving consumer goods, pharmaceutical products, and many other products.
“The business community will have to focus on diversifying exports to Tajikistan as currently, our exports remain mostly confined to fruits, vegetables, rice, and cereals etc. which is the basic reason why the bilateral trade remains negligible to around $30 million only,” he said while speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).
Saeed Sarwar further mentioned that Pakistan had recently signed a transit trade agreement with Tajikistan in December last year, which would operationalise soon. “Although few things are pending from both sides but the implementation phase of this important agreement will begin very soon.”
He was of the view that Pakistan could use Tajikistan as a gateway to the landlocked Central Asian Republics. “With the help of colleagues and stakeholders in Pakistan as well as in Tajikistan, it will be my top priority to turn the dream of improved connectivity with Tajikistan into reality.
Although there are challenges but these could easily be surmounted through collective efforts, close coordination and regular consultation.” He noted that a huge range of Pakistani products being exported to Afghanistan were being re-exported to Tajikistan, as Pakistani containers cannot directly move to Tajikistan and they have to go through cross shifting twice at Afghanistan and Tajikistan borders so it makes the procedure very complicated and discourages bilateral trade.
“Under TIR Convention different carriers operate in this region without transloading so I will be making efforts to somehow introduce any such TIR licensed carrier for Pakistan as well so that our containers could also move smoothly without any transloading during transit to Tajikistan,” he added.
Referring to concerns expressed over a lack of proper banking channel between Pakistan and Tajikistan, he said it was definitely a big concern for the business community which would be taken up with relevant authorities on top priority as soon as he reaches Tajikistan.
To a query regarding direct flights, the envoy informed that Somon Air, which is the national air carrier of Tajikistan, was planning to initiate direct weekly flights between Tajikistan and Pakistan. “The airline is in touch with aviation authorities and is also negotiating with ground handling agents. As soon as the negotiations reach conclusion, Somon Air will start its operations,” he said.
Source : International The News