ISLAMABAD: Member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation — China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz­stan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — may be able to use Pakistani ports to get access to trade routes through the Arabian Sea once China-Pakistan Eco­no­mic Corridor (CPEC) is completed and becomes operational.

Speaking at the Economic and Trade Ministers meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Xian, the capital of China’s Shaanxi province on Wed­nesday, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan said that Pakistan’s trade strategy focuses on developing linkages with our neighbours, leveraging our geographical location and capitalising on regional connectivity initiatives.

Pakistan has an observer status at the SCO and is scheduled to become full member state in January 2016 which will provide new impetus to Pakistan’s relations with member states.

The minister emphasised that cross-border land trade is especially important for landlocked member countries as Pakistan and SCO countries will benefit substantially from greater integration through energy, commerce and transit trade.

He said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a landmark initiative under the umbrella of One-Belt, One-Road and this economic corridor will connect the nodes of growth centres falling between Kashgar and Gwadar.

The CPEC envisages connectivity and expansion of trade and investment through a network of roads, rail, fiber optic cables, and energy pipelines.

The commerce minister was of the view that Pakistan’s geo-strategic position offers Central Asian states access to the warm waters of Arabian Sea and huge markets of South Asia.

He said that Pakistan provides critical overland routes and connectivity for mutually beneficial trade and energy transactions.

In line with the vision of the prime minister of shared prosperity through connectivity, Pakistan has undertaken several initiatives which include rebooting of Quadrilateral Agreement for Traffic in Transit (QTTA) between China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.

The QTTA provides Pak­istan a gateway to Central Asia and the landlocked Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan access to Pakistani seaports via China-Pakistan Eco­nomic Corridor.

The minister said Pakistan recently acceded to TIR Convention which would ensure more efficient and faster movement of goods across our borders to the countries of Central Asia.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2015

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