Pak-Kyrgyz relations to milestone in regional, global trade integration: Sardar Azhar

The geographical location of Kyrgyzstan offers many opportunities for trade with Pakistan as it is the shortest entry point of Pakistani products to the ‘Eurasian Economic Markets’ of 182-million people comprising Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia.

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ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Pakistan to Kyrgyzstan Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan on Sunday said that Promoting bilateral trade and economic relations between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan could be a milestone in regional and global trade integration and connectivity.

The geo-strategic position of Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan also highlights their geo-economic importance, which could play a significant role in promoting trade connectivity amongst different regions and potential markets of the world, Ambassador of Pakistan to Kyrgyzstan Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan told.

The ambassador said that due to its geostrategic importance, Pakistan is currently a major player in global and regional trade, bordering the Middle East and South Asian states on the one hand and the global economic power China on the other.

Similarly, Kyrgyzstan, due to its very important geographical location, has a distinctive place among the Central Asian states (CARs). He said that the geographical location of Kyrgyzstan offers many opportunities for trade with Pakistan as it is the shortest entry point of Pakistani products to the ‘Eurasian Economic Markets’ of 182-million people comprising Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Armenia.

Sardar Azhar said that goods once exported to Kyrgyzstan can be further transported to the Eurasian markets without payment of customs duties. Furthermore, Kyrgyzstan has flourishing construction and hoteling industries, he added.

Given the strategic location of Kyrgyzstan and its membership in the Eurasian Economic Union, a trade delegation may visit Kyrgyzstan to look for new markets for our products, he said.

Pakistan’s envoy said that many high rising buildings for shopping malls, apartments, and hotels are currently being constructed mostly by Turkish firms for which raw material is being imported from other countries. He said that construction material from Pakistan can also be exported. As per figures provided by the host Foreign Office, the trade turnover of the Kyrgyz Republic with Pakistan amounted to US$ 5.9 million in 2021 with Pakistan’s exports amounting to US$ 5.3 million and imports US$ 0.6 million, he said.

Sardar Azhar said that the main items of our exports included, machinery and equipment, products made of non-precious metals, plastic products, leather products, and cosmetics.

Pakistan imported beans, canned meat and fish, wood products, tanned leather, and aviation kerosene, he said. The ambassador said that Pakistan basically exports pharmaceutical products, oranges, rice, sports items, surgical instruments, textiles, and garments to Kyrgyzstan. In addition, Pakistan could export its surplus fresh fruits and vegetables especially during the winter season when there is an acute shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables in Kyrgyzstan, he said.

Replying to a question, he said the Pakistan embassy in Kyrgyzstan also organized Mango Exhibition at the City Centre of Bishkek for the introduction of our Mangoes to the general public. Since Mango is a rare fruit in Kyrgyzstan, the Embassy put up a stall decorated with introductory banners, he said

While strictly following the social distancing SOPs, Mango was not served to the people instead it was gifted to approximately 400 persons.

“We had also invited owners of prominent superstores and importers of fruits to the event” he informed. “I have personally received many calls and messages of thanks from the Government functionaries, Ambassadors, and other dignitaries.”

They greatly admired the taste and aroma of the mangoes from Pakistan, he said. He said that gifts of mangoes were delivered on behalf of the President of Pakistan Dr. ArifAlvi to the President and Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Mr. Sooronbay Sharipovich Jeenbekov and Mr. Kubatbek Aiylchievich Boronov respectively through the Protocol Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic. Replying to another question, he said that Pakistan was contributing US$ 100 million to the Kyrgyz economy in terms of fees and other living expenses of approximately 10,000 Pakistani students.

He said that majority of these students were pursuing medical education in substandard universities which had sprung up in the last couple of years. Admission of such a large number of students was not only adversely impacting the health care system of Pakistan but was also draining out the much-needed foreign exchange reserve, he said.

It was an uphill task for the mission to stop or streamline the admission of Pakistani students to substandard universities, he said. Despite repeated requests by the mission, “we could not get a positive response from the erstwhile PMDC.” The mission had to seek the intervention of the highest offices in Pakistan to start the process for streamlining medical education at foreign medical institutions, he said. Resultantly, PMC introduced global criteria for recognition of foreign medical institutions and qualifications.

The ambassador said that with the introduction of new criteria, Kyrgyz colleges were assessed and three medical schools were placed in Category A, 5 in category B, and 8 in category C. Some colleges could not even qualify to get listed in category C. After listing of universities, admissions of Pakistani students in substandard universities have almost completely stopped, he informed. Replying to another query, he said that as part of the efforts of the government for repatriation of Pakistani nationals stranded abroad due to COVID-19, the mission organized 48 charter flights evacuating approximately 6,750 students from Bishkek in June-July 2020.

The ambassador said that approximately 8,700 Pakistani nationals including students, tourists, businessmen, and other visitors were stranded in Kyrgyzstan due to Covid related travel restrictions. During their stay in Kyrgyzstan, the Embassy took all necessary steps to ensure their complete wellbeing. Sardar Azhar said the Embassy also remained actively engaged with relevant authorities of Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan for making this complex flight operation.

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