Islamabad: The Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood Thursday said Gwadar port would provide huge opportunities to the energy rich Central Asian Countries and Afghanistan for regional trade connectivity.
The government is prioritizing the economic integration to promote regional trade and connect the regional important trade players with the deep sea port Gwadar, the adviser Abdul Razak Dawood said.
Replying to question, he said that Central Asian Republic (CARs) are demanding to providing them trade facilitation in Gwadar and Bin Qasim sea port for international and regional trade and providing them the facility of the warehouse.
The Adviser said Deep Sea Port of Gwadar has its own Geo-Strategic and economic importance which is located at the centre of regional connectivity and a possible railway link from Gwadar to Kandhar and other parts of Afghanistan.
He said Central Asia via Afghanistan can become a key trade and transportation route for the entire region.
Razak Dawood said that Pakistan is actively participating in regional forums of Central Asia Economic Cooperation (CAREC) and Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA) so that maximum benefits could be taken when the Gwadar Port operates at full capacity in near future.
The Government of Afghanistan has requested Pakistan to provide Cross-Stuffing Facility at Gwadar Port, he said.
He informed that when modalities are finalized by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), ample employment opportunities will be generated for the local people.
He said development of Gwadar Port under China-Pakistan Economic Corridors (CPEC) will provide more opportunities to Pakistan in order to establish new industries as huge investment has been pouring in under CPEC and it will also provide the shortest possible route to the goods in transit.
He said that with the improvement in Trans-shipment facilities at Gwadar, the whole dynamics of the regional connectivity would be changed.
The Adviser said that Gwadar is at strategic location giving China and Central Asia an access to the Gulf Region and the Middle East. He said that in future, it would be a main Sea-gate for the Central Asia.
It would also become easy to send products from Xinxiang and Central Asian countries to other regions, he said.
Replying to another question, he said that this port is likely to reduce transport time for goods from Gwadar to Western China and the Central Asian Republics by 60% to 70%.
Razak Dawood said that all possible steps are being taken by the Ministry of Commerce, in coordination with other stakeholders, to provide modern facilities at Gwadar Port so that goods clearance time may be reduced as per the set international standards.
Moreover, in the forthcoming Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF 2020-25) special focus has been accorded to Trade facilitation, Economic Infrastructure Development, Transhipment and Development of Economic Corridors (CPEC and CAREC) so that overall policy environment could be improved in general and regional connectivity should be increased in particular, he informed.
Responding to a question on Pak- Afghanistan, Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), he said that in 2015, Pakistan side shared a draft Pak-Afghan Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with Afghanistan.
Subsequently, Afghanistan has shared its comments on draft PTA and its request list and offer lists in November, 2019 and June 2020, he added.
Razak Dawood said the work on Afghanistan’s Request List has been undertaken by Ministry of Commerce, in consultation with Government sector stakeholders including Ministry of Industries, Ministry of National Food Security and Research and FBR, as well as private sector.
He said that during his recent visit to Kabul from November 16-18, 2020, the two sides decided to form a Technical Negotiation Committee (TNC) to start negotiations on PTA.
The ministry of Commerce has notified its TNC and requested the Afghan side to follow suit, so that first meeting of TNC may be held.