ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is seriously considering laying modern rail tracks along with refurbishing existing railway routes for direct and transit trade with Afghanistan and Iran, said Federal Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir.
During a meeting with a business delegation of South Africa, he said the government considered rail tracks as trade corridors as they would play a vital role in boosting Pakistan’s exports and facilitating transit trade.
“We will also establish a modern rail link from Gwadar Port to the upcountry and further extend it to Afghanistan for transit trade,” he said, adding refurbishing of the existing rail infrastructure for trade with Iran was also under consideration as trade ties were getting stronger.
According to Dastgir, the government is utilising substantial resources to meet electricity needs of export industries and for that purpose, construction of power plants including the Sahiwal coal-fired power plant was under way at a fast pace.“We shall ensure a smooth supply of imported raw material to the Sahiwal plant through railways,” he added.
Furthermore, he told the delegation that Pakistan intended to initiate talks with South Africa for reaching a preferential trade agreement in a bid to increase the existing trade volume between the two countries.
The South African delegation offered their support for the provision of funds, rail infrastructure development and services, technology transfer, training of human resource and logistics support for the supply of imported input to different projects.
The delegation was led by Willem Goosen of Grindrod Rail and Multi-Continent Investment Company. Ashfaq Anwar, a Pakistani businessman in South Africa, also accompanied them.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2016.