Pakistan and Tajikistan on Friday agreed to start negotiation on Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) that would pave way for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries. The agreement on starting negotiations was developed during a meeting between Federal Minister for Commerce Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan and Tajikistan Minister of Foreign Affairs Sirodjidin Aslov here.
“The true potential of the proposed Pakistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan Transit Trade Agreement can be explored to the fullest only if the two sides start negotiations on PTA,” both the minister agreed. Speaking on the occasion, Khurram Dastgir proposed signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and the trade promotion organisation of Tajikistan to enhance trade, increase trade exhibitions, simplify trade procedures and limit time for issuance of visas for businessmen of both countries.
The Minister said the Ministry of Commerce would arrange business-to-business meetings in order to enhance trade and investment in the textile sector of Tajikistan. He also proposed the formation of Pakistan-Tajikistan Joint Business Council so that direct business-to-business contacts might be established to avail any opportunity swiftly.
Dastgir emphasised that the vision of Prime Minister of Pakistan was to link the regions through infrastructure, mobile phone and financial system connectivity which would be instrumental in the economic uplift of the people of the South and Central Asia. The CASA-1000 project will be a classic example of economic interdependence between two regions and provide Pakistan with the much eagerly required electricity.
The Minister also talked about the desire to create an energy market in the region which could easily be supplied to any country with a deficiency once the grid is established. On the occasion, Aslov proposed the establishment of rail and road network which would link Tajikistan with the southern ports of Pakistan and help their land-locked country to trade with the world through sea.
To ensure food security of Tajikistan, Aslov sought to increase agricultural imports from Pakistan as only seven percent of the land of Tajikistan is available for crop cultivation. He said there was a demand of wheat and potato seeds and processed sugar imports in Tajikistan, inviting investors to invest in the five Free Economic Zones of Tajikistan, four of which were near Afghan and Pakistani border regions. He also sought Pakistani investment in chemical sector as the Tajikistan is rich in minerals but the processing facility is limited and requires financial and technological investment.