Uzbekistan looks to Pakistan’s ports in Karachi and Gwadar for trade
Uzbekistan has expressed its willingness and sought Pakistan’s support to access the Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA) to utilize Karachi and Gwadar ports for its trade operations.
The formal request was made by Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister Sardor Umurzakov during a video conference with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood. Uzbekistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Furqat Sidikov also joined the meeting held at the Ministry of Commerce in Islamabad.
During the meeting, both sides expressed their interest in expanding bilateral trade and investment ties to further improve relations between the two countries. They agreed on greater utilization of the institutions like Inter-Governmental Commission and Joint Business Council.
Uzbek side also expressed desire for the establishment of the Joint Working Group for trade and investment cooperation
Mr Dawood assured the Uzbek side of Pakistan’s support to join Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA). He also informed them that a memorandum of understanding for Pakistan-Uzbekistan Joint Working Group on Trade and Investment will be ready for signing after seeking approval from the cabinet of Pakistan.
They also expressed interest in establishing joint ventures in the fields of agriculture, fruits and vegetable such as mangoes and potatoes, textile, pharma, tourism and construction sectors.
QTTA under CPEC to connect Pakistan with Central Asia
QTTA is an agreement between Pakistan, China, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to facilitate transit trade and traffic under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
This project aims to provide China and Central Asia access to Pakistani ports bypassing Afghanistan via an alternative route, the Karakoram Highway (which links Gilgit-Baltistan to China’s Xinjiang region).
Although Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan had also been negotiating a trilateral transit trade agreement but Kabul’s emphasis that India be included in the arrangement led to the stalemate.
The inclusion in QTTA will grant landlocked Central Asian access to Pakistan’s ports and safe passage to traders from both sides. Before Uzbekistan, another Central Asian state Tajikistan also expressed interest in joining QTTA.
Pakistan’s ideal geostrategic location can offer Central Asian states as well as Russia the closest maritime facilities for trade.