With a population of approximately 190 million and a GDP close to $300 billion, Pakistan continues to offer significant trade opportunities to countries and traders around the world. stakeholders in the public and private sector including the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, district Chambers, trade associations, private businesses, academia, think tanks, trade missions, Ministries/Divisions, and other government agencies are actively engaged in the promotion of all such related activities.
Since Pakistan joined CAREC ten years ago, the country has benefited from regional connectivity investments worth $1.5 billion, of which the ADB has provided $800 million. Roads have been developed, railway strategies are being prepared and energy projects are underway.
The Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Strategy 2030, which is a new long-term strategic framework for regional cooperation has also been introduced. The strategy is aimed at creating an open and inclusive regional cooperation platform that connects people, policies and projects for shared and sustainable development. CAREC has 11 members but the new strategy is aimed at strengthening coordination with other international and regional cooperation mechanisms including China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Georgia are members of CAREC. This platform is very much aligned with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and both regional initiatives are natural partners of each other. CAREC’s new strategy recognises the importance of economic ties with non-member neighbouring countries and will coordinate activities with relevant entities, especially in commercial and academic spheres. A main stumbling block to Pakistan’s Endeavour to reach Central Asia is Afghanistan, according to analysts. Kabul wants access to India in return for clearing the route for Pakistan to Central Asian Republics. CAREC forum could contribute to long-term political and economic stability, thereby creating a peace dividend, adding it could provide the impetus for maintaining a stable and sustained growth, which was needed to alleviate poverty and keep Pakistan move forward.