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Pakistan-Uzbekistan trade begins via Afghanistan

The two countries expected to sign a formal agreement soon

SAMAA | - Posted: Jun 2, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 weeks ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Jun 2, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 weeks ago

Photo: SAMAA TV FILE

For the first time, trade between Pakistan and Uzbekistan has begun via Afghanistan. It is being hailed as an important step towards economic development in the region.

This trade is currently taking place under an international convention, according to officials. The two countries are expected to sign a formal agreement soon.

In May, Pakistan sent a truck from the Karachi port to Tashkent via the Torkham border crossing. The truck carrying medicine and other medical supplies reached Tashkent in 48 hours.

It returned to Faisalabad after two days, carrying leather products.

Bilateral trade between the two countries is aimed at promoting trade between regional states.

The project has been under consideration for the past several decades. It has been delayed because of the uncertain situation in Afghanistan.

Pakistan PM’s aide on trade Abdul Razzak Dawood said last month that trade ties with partnering countries are critical to sustainable business relationships.

To promote international trade, he said, Pakistan will benefit from its geographical position. “The present state of its relations with Uzbekistan and Afghanistan is an important development in this regard,” he said.

The government aims to make the country a hub for trade, transit and mobility, according to Dawood.

In March, the Uzbek foreign minister met Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad. The two leaders agreed to expand bilateral trade.

Pakistan offered to provide Uzbekistan trade facilities in Karachi and Gwadar. The joint communique mentioned Pakistan as a gateway for the Central Asian states.

Uzbekistan, a land-locked country, relies on Iran for its trade.

Is there a formal agreement between Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan?

Islamabad was in talks with Afghan and Uzbek officials for a formal trade agreement, a spokesman for the Pakistani Ministry of Commerce told SAMAA Digital.

“The trade that has just begun is taking place under the TIR Convention, which is an international agreement,” he said. “At present, only bilateral trade is taking place.”

A formal agreement is expected to be signed at a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Uzbek president later this month or in July, according to the spokesperson.

The Afghan unrest

But experts believe that infighting in Afghanistan is the biggest hurdle in the way of trilateral trade.

There has been a surge in violence in the neighbouring country after the announcement of the US pullout.

They say if the situation continued to worsen, it would be difficult to implement the trade plan.

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