RAWALPINDI: Pakistan is a big market and Azerbaijan wants to tap growing opportunities, Azerbaijani Ambassador Ali Alizada said on Thursday, while also urging Pakistanis to explore investment opportunities in his country.

Ambassador Alizada was speaking at a visit to the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI).

The ambassador discussed ways and means to explore business collaborations, the exchange of delegations and trade information. He said Azerbaijan had a great attachment with Pakistan and both countries enjoy a cordial relationship.

The envoy highlighted the economic reforms being undertaken in the Central Asian state, including tax holidays and ease of doing business. He said that there were opportunities for bilateral cooperation in the field of tourism as the Azerbaijani government has eased the tourist visa process and also suggested increased cooperation in citrus fruit and other food products, construction, tourism and defence production.

RCCI President Malik Shahid Saleem said Azerbaijan and Pakistan enjoy good political and trade relations, but the volume of bilateral trade is not convincing. He said a $60 million bilateral trade volume is not enough with the size of the economies of both countries in mind.

He said the RCCI is planning to organise an ECO trade forum for exploring new avenues, information and the promotion of trade ties among member countries.

He said there are tremendous opportunities for bilateral trade cooperation in the pharmaceutical, poultry, marble, furniture and textile sectors.

Mr Saleem also told the ambassador about current and upcoming RCCI events and invited him to the upcoming 2019 Rawal Exhibition.

He also elaborated on hurdles facing the promotion of bilateral trade between the two countries. Banking channels, air connectivity, tariff barriers, alternate rail and road networks, visa-free facilities and lucrative incentives should be provided to enhance bilateral trade relations, he said.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2019