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Pakistan, Tajikistan agree to boost bilateral trade to Rs54 bn


DUSHANBE: Pakistan and Tajikistan have agreed to boost the bilateral trade to $500 million (Rs54 billion approx).

Over the past few years, the trade between the two countries has hovered between $40 to $90 million.Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who reached here Wednesday on an important two-day visit to the significant Central Asian State on the invitation of Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon, in his one-on-one meeting with the host president highlighted the escalated tension on the Line of Control (LoC) due to continuous violations of ceasefire agreement by the Indian forces.

The prime minister reiterated that Pakistan desired to maintain good relations with all its neighbours, and wanted to resolve the Kashmir conflict with India through dialogue.

The prime minister in his statement to the press at the conclusion of his one-on-one and delegation-level talks with President Emomali, said he was impressed by the “remarkable political stability, social cohesion and impressive economic progress” of Tajikistan. He said the two sides discussed the importance of road, rail and air connectivity and said it was vital for regional integration, promotion of bilateral trade, tourism, people-to-people contacts. “We have therefore resolved to multiply our efforts to increase connectivity between our two countries,” he said.

Nawaz Sharif said his visit had provided an opportunity to translate their close political ties into strategic cooperation in all spheres particularly economy, trade, investment energy and defense. During the talks, the two sides also agreed to continue cooperation in international forums, including the United Nations (UN), Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO).

Vowing joint steps against terrorism, the two sides agreed on holding first meeting of Pakistan-Tajikistan Joint Working Group on countering international terrorism.  Nawaz said the two sides also identified the need for increased cooperation in agriculture, industry, education and culture. He said Pakistan views with admiration the laudable socio-economic development and progress achieved under President Rahmon's leadership.

He recalled that it was his fourth visit since June 2014 while President Rahmon made two visits to Pakistan. He said frequent high-level visits were reflective of importance the two countries attach to their relationship. He said Islamabad attaches great importance to its relations with Central Asian countries, particularly Tajikistan. Both leaders agreed that connectivity holds key to regional integration. The two leaders expressed satisfaction on the progress achieved so far in the economic sphere particularly with regard to CASA-1000 Project and hoped it would soon move into the construction phase.

The prime minister stressed the need for further enhancing trade, energy and defense cooperation. He referred to the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Tajikistan and said as agreed in 2014, the two countries need to take measures to boost it to us $500 million in the next three years.

Earlier, with a focus on regional connectivity, trade and energy, Pakistan and Tajikistan agreed on exploring new avenues of cooperation by increasing collaborating in economy, defence and security, agriculture and education.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with President Emomali Rahmon inked the joint declaration aimed at enhancing regional connectivity between the two countries and the region at large. The two leaders emphasised close collaboration between Pakistan and Tajikistan both at the government and people level, besides giving a further boost to their bilateral relations.

Nawaz recalled that a business forum was also held in Dushanbe last month where the two sides discussed cooperation in pharmaceuticals, textiles and construction sectors. He said the Joint Working Group on trade investment and transport would also be meeting later this month to explore untapped opportunities in these areas. He also announced opening of a Commercial Section at Pakistan's embassy in Dushanbe.

Nawaz said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would provide new opportunities for enhanced connectivity and integration from Gwadar to Kashgar. It would also provide a road link with Tajikistan and other Central Asian states. He said Pakistan attaches great importance to security cooperation with Tajikistan. He said the two countries can share experience on counter-terrorism, anti-narcotics, controlling human trafficking and border control. He said Tajikistan’s formal accession to Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA) among China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan would facilitate regional integration and boost economic development.

The two sides also noted the close collaboration between their defence forces and measures to counter extremism and terrorism. The two sides also stressed the need for a meeting of their joint Working Group on combating international terrorism and agreed on its meeting on countering international terrorism in Dushanbe this month.

The premier also offered capacity building of the Tajik Armed Forces. He also shared with the Tajik president the deteriorating situation in the Indian-Held Kashmir and said the international community needs to stand up with the oppressed people of Kashmir and reject the violation of human rights.

Regarding relations with Afghanistan, Nawaz said its peace and stability was in Pakistan's interest and said his country would continue to constructively participate in all initiatives to bring peace. He said a stable Afghanistan would promote regional connectivity and economic development.

The two leaders also expressed satisfaction over the holding of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) in Islamabad in June 2016. The JMC took important decisions to increase bilateral trade and to achieve the target of $500 million over the medium term.

President Rahmon in his statement to the press congratulated Pakistan on accession to the SCO. He noted the strong ties between the two countries and said it coincides with 25 anniversary of their ties that have grown stronger over the years. He said the talks were held in warm constructive atmosphere and emphasised that stronger ties would boost regional cooperation and economic relations. He said continued dialogue would boost ties between the two countries and stressed the need to finalise agreement on Bilateral Transit Trade at earliest.

The Tajik president hoped that Pakistani investors would join trade free zones in Tajikistan. He said Tajikistan was land locked and was keen to use opportunities by Pakistan to use its ports for exporting Tajik goods to rest of the world. He said both sides exchanged views on regional situation and need to expand ties at ECO, OIC and SCO.

He said Tajikistan was satisfied with the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and hoped it would lead to enhanced cooperation between the two countries. The two leaders also witnessed inking of Memorandum of Understanding on trade cooperation.

Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan signed the MoU on trade cooperation along with Tajik Minister of Economy Naimatullah Hikmatullah Zada. The MoU on cooperation between University of Arid Agriculture, Rawalpindi and Agriculture University, Dushanbe was signed by its Rector Naimatullah Faiz ullah and Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.

  APP adds: Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the Dusti Square (Square of Friendship) and laid a floral wreath at the monument of founder of the Tajikistan.

The Square houses a monument of Ismoil Somoni, who was the Emir of the Sasanids dynasty, the founder of the state in Central Asia.

Ismoil is known in history as a competent general and a strong ruler. The monument was established in 1999 in honor of 1,100th anniversary of the state of the Samanids.

Later, President Emomali Rahmon hosted a dinner in honour of the prime minister and members of his entourage.

The Tajik president hosted the dinner at Koh-e-Naovruz Hall, known for its intricate woodwork.

Prime Minister would be participating in the quadrilateral meeting of CASA-1000 to be attended by President Emomali, President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani and Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov at the Pugus Varzob Valley.

He would also witness an exhibition of agricultural products. He would later participate in a trilateral meeting between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, before heading back home.

Source: The News