Preferential trade deal with Uzbekistan likely

Several accords to be signed during PM Imran’s Tashkent visit


Irshad Ansari July 12, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

Prime Minister Imran Khan will leave for an official visit to Uzbekistan on July 15.

Earlier, trade adviser Abdul Razzaq Dawood and Investment Board officials will leave for Tashkent, while Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is also expected to arrive in the Uzbek capital from Tajikistan.

During his visit to Uzbekistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan will jointly inaugurate the session of the CASA Conference with the President of Uzbekistan.

On this occasion, preferential trade agreement between Pakistan and Uzbekistan, bilateral cooperation in other areas including transit trade, customs, banking, trade and investment, transport and other MoUs and agreements will be signed.

In addition, it has been agreed to launch flight operations between Uzbekistan and Pakistan. Regular flights with Pakistan are expected to be launched from August 2021. Direct flights from Uzbekistan to Pakistan are expected to begin.

According to sources, preparations for the prime minister's visit have been completed. During the trip, water agreements and MoUs between the two countries will also be finalised.

For the agreements and MoUs that are expected to be signed between the two countries, drafts are being finalized.

Drafts have been exchanged between the two countries and Pakistan has requested Uzbekistan to import goods on concessional duty under the preferential trade agreement.

The list of items is also being finalized.

According to a document available to The Express Tribune, Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to visit Uzbekistan on July 15 to attend the CASA conference.

According to the proposed schedule, the President will jointly inaugurate the inaugural session of the CASA Conference in Tashkent on July 16. There will be delegation-level talks on July 17, and Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Uzbek President will jointly inaugurate the Trade Conference.

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Negotiations will be held at the level of delegations between the two countries, after which agreements and MOUs will be signed.

Business-to-business meetings and talks starting on the sidelines of the CASA Trade Conference will be held on July 18.

According to the document, progress on the plan to establish a railway link through Afghanistan has also been agreed upon. According to the document, there will be MoUs on the promotion of business-to-business relations between the two countries and promotion of bilateral trade, investment and exports.

The World Bank has offered to provide financial support for the Train Afghan Railway project. In addition, Russia has also agreed to cooperate for the project. The document states that the Afghan railway project will be completed under a joint roadmap.

Work has also started on a pre-feasibility study. The document states that under the TRI Convention between Pakistan and Uzbekistan, it has been agreed to deliver consignments from Pakistan and Uzbekistan on a trial basis for which the two countries have links.

Similarly, air connectivity between Pakistan and Uzbekistan will be established and Uzbekistan is expected to start regular flights to Pakistan from August 2021.

It was further informed that under the Pakistan-Uzbekistan preferential trade agreement bilateral trade between the two nations will be promoted for which the two countries are finalizing a draft and preferential items for imports. The lists have also been exchanged.

The agreement will be finalized soon and a preferential trade agreement is expected to be signed on the occasion of PM Imran's visit to Tashkent. Similarly, the Uzbekistan-Pakistan transit trade agreement will also be signed. Uzbekistan is also expected to be included in the transit trade agreement.

Bilateral cooperation agreements and MoUs in the customs and banking sectors are also expected for which drafts have been prepared. The Central Bank of Uzbekistan has shared a draft MoU on cooperation in the banking sector.

The Central Bank of Uzbekistan and the State Bank of Pakistan are expected to sign an agreement on cooperation in the banking sector. Agreements are also expected to be signed on the promotion of economy, trade and investment.

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