FAISALABAD: The Pak-Uzbek Business Council has helped double bilateral trade between the two countries in the past two years and the trade volume will cross $300 million very soon, announced Namangan City Mayor Shavkat Abdurazakov.
Heading a 14-member delegation of businessmen from Uzbekistan at the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), he discussed various avenues to explore and strengthen bilateral relations with the private sector of Faisalabad.
He pointed out that Uzbekistan was among the best cotton-producing countries while Faisalabad had excelled in the manufacturing of best quality textile products of international standards.
"Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has introduced liberal economic policies coupled with institutional reforms," he said. "These efforts have yielded results and the Uzbek economy is now gaining momentum at a steady pace."
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the National Textile University (NTU) Faisalabad and Namangan Institute of Engineering and Technology (NIET) Uzbekistan.
"This will result in a quantum jump in textile sectors of both countries," he added. "This MoU will also open new avenues of cooperation between the industrial and business communities."
Regarding Namangan city, he said it was globally known for its exotic flowers. "We organise an international event for our flowers every year," he said referring to the 60th Annual Flower Exhibition due to be organised next year.
He asked Pakistani businessmen to participate in the exhibition and explore new opportunities for investment.
He apprised Faisalabad businessmen of the 1st International Uzbek Investment Forum, saying due to liberal policies of the government 15 new projects with an estimated investment of $150 billion would be inaugurated soon.
He pointed out that electricity in Uzbekistan was available at less than $0.01 per unit, hence, its small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which had a share of 66.1% in the Uzbek economy, was making progress by leaps and bounds.
"A large number of small industrial zones are also being established where foreign investors can start joint ventures or establish independent production units," he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Uzbekistan Ambassador Furqat Sidiqov explained the efforts being made to promote bilateral trade between the two countries. "We are now shifting focus to the private sector of both countries after exploiting the public sector," Sidiqov said.
Underlining the importance of Punjab province, the envoy emphasised that he was focusing on promoting bilateral relations between Punjab and Namangan on a priority basis. "The forging of linkages will encourage joint ventures between the two countries," he stated.
Regarding the Pak-Uzbek Business Council, he said its offices had been established in Islamabad and Karachi and this year trade centres would be opened in Karachi and Peshawar.
He also coined a proposal for declaring Faisalabad and Namangan twin cities and voiced hope that it would help exploit social and cultural similarities for economic benefit of the two countries.
Acting FCCI President Mian Tanveer Ahmed expressed satisfaction over the bilateral trade, saying both countries should concentrate on launching joint ventures in Pakistan as well as in Uzbekistan.