LAHORE: Pakistan has great economic significance and Nepal, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are keen to increase bilateral trade with the South Asian nation.
Envoys of the three countries expressed such views during a visit to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
Turkmenistan Ambassador Atadjan Movlamov remarked that his country attached great importance to better relations with Pakistan and it wanted to speed up work on Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline project.
“A logistics centre has been established for transit trade in Turkmenistan but one route cannot meet the requirements, so access to the ports of Karachi and Gwadar is very important,” he suggested.
Nepal Ambassador Tapas Adhikari said his country saw Pakistan as a preferred partner and was keen to expand trade relations.
The Nepal Chamber has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the LCCI and its implementation in true spirit can help increase bilateral trade between the two countries.
While calling for the exchange of trade delegations, the ambassador affirmed that he himself would bring a delegation of Nepali businessmen to Pakistan soon.
Similarly, Azerbaijan Ambassador Khazar Farhadov said, “Pakistan is a strong country and has supported Azerbaijan in testing times. We want to further improve trade relations with Pakistan.”
Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir pointed out that Pakistan and Nepal were members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) and had enjoyed friendly relations since the 1960s.
Despite having long and cordial relations, the value of trade between the two countries remained limited to $7.3 million during 2021.
Similarly, “Pakistan and Azerbaijan have good diplomatic relations. However, according to State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) trade figures, Pakistan’s exports to Azerbaijan in 2021-22 were only $6.3 million while its imports stood at $1.5 million. This essentially means that the total trade between the two countries is valued at less than $10 million.”
Kabir underlined the immediate need for establishing direct air links with Azerbaijan. Besides, “we should develop banking channels in order to ensure maximum facilitation for increase in bilateral trade.”
About trade ties with Turkmenistan, the LCCI chief said business and economic relations had not been adequately developed as the two-way trade stood at only $14 million in 2021.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2022.