Pakistan has the potential to form a new economic bloc with Russia, China, and the Central Asian and SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] states.
This was stated by Acting President Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) Mr. Osman Ashraf in a statement. He observed that Pakistani products had a high demand in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. “The country’s exports can be increased by promoting regional trade. We need to find new markets.”
He asserted that Pakistan could benefit from enhanced trade with Central Asian republics (CARs) which were rich in oil, gas, and other energy resources. There is a need for signing more transit and preferential trade agreements with these countries, as half of the world’s population lives in this region, he urged.
Mr. Ashraf rued, “Exports have been affected by the lockdown [imposed in the wake of COVID outbreak], yet we have to promote our products through virtual platforms. In the prevailing challenging situation, there is a huge opportunity for us to re-examine our market and products.”
He explained that by using the virtual platform, the Pakistani chambers of commerce could liaise with the government to identify different sectors and industrial zones, sharing information of respective trade sectors with commercial consuls abroad. He underlined that the bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and CARs was less than a billion dollars. However, he said, efforts could be made to double the trade volume within the next couple of years.
He maintained that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) offered great regional connectivity and integration from South Asia, Central Asia, and beyond. He emphasized the need to improve the banking channel, transportation, and road and railway network so that perishable goods could get more sustainable.