Pakistan & Promoting Regional Trade

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Central Asia is a big market and Pakistan must explore new trade avenues in this region. It is the hour of need to explore the new trade avenues, business opportunities between Pakistan and Central Asia. CPEC offers great regional connectivity and integration from South Asia, Central Asian countries and beyond.
The relationship between South Asia and Central Asia is not new but rather historical. It is a centuries-old rich legacy and a celebrated heritage that represents productive religious, political, cultural, ethnic and commercial exchanges between the two regions. Together with religious, political, cultural and ethnic ties, however, the two regions also strengthened commercial ties or trading networks, particularly with the emergence of the Silk Route.
Special Economic Zones or SEZs under CPEC can serve as a strong base for the industrial development of the country. However the SEZs must be based on the export oriented business/trade development. The government must to expedite process and working on CPEC Special Economic Zones. The industrial parks would be developed aligned with local available resources.
Central Asia, without a doubt, is a storehouse of energy, but unfortunately landlocked geographically. The major exciting prospects with respect to the CARs are mostly viewed in terms of energy resources. The mineral resources present in abundance in Central Asia are a source of attraction for one and all, particularly for regional countries such as Pakistan, that otherwise have high deficits in these resources. The region’s oil and gas reserves are estimated as the second largest in the world. Vast mineral reserves and rich agriculture activities when combined with a skilled population imply that there are ample chances for this region to surface as one of the most dynamic regions in the entire world.
Pakistan is one of the best countries for investment; the recent signs of stability in the economy are encouraging which will lead to economic growth to become a developed nation soon. Pakistan’s investment policy trends have been consistent, with liberalization, deregulation, privatization, and facilitation being its foremost cornerstones.
Pakistan is a very important country which is a gateway to energy-rich Central Asian states, financially solid Gulf Republics and economically advanced Far Eastern countries. There are many economic and businesses opportunities available in multiple sectors in Pakistan, ease of doing business have been improved and while special economic zones have everything to attract foreign investors. Pakistan is strategically located to become Asia’s premier trade, energy, and transport corridor and it will soon become a regional economic hub and a preferred destination for business, trade, and investment.
Similarly, there is need to improve banking channel, transportation, road and rail network so that perishable goods got more sustainability. Businesses are facing big challenge on competitiveness with neighboring countries. Lower tariff rates, regulatory duties and cheap electricity price can help manufacturers to meet the given challenge and it will also help Pakistan to increase its exports.
Pakistan is a valuable trading partner to the region and on average experience greater export intensity rather than import intensity, depicting the fact that Pakistan has enjoyed intensity in overall trade and was relatively more specialized rather than CARs during the period of this analysis. Pakistan mainly exported cereals, oil and pharmaceutical products while imported cotton, iron and steel etc.
The greater value of complementarity index indicates that Pakistan has exported most of these products to the countries which have high demand. The findings of intense trade relation between Pakistan and CARs suggest that Pakistan has an opportunity to exploit its resources, diversify exports and increase its trade relations with the region by signing free trade agreements.
The emergence of the energy-rich but landlocked Central Asian Republics (CARs) has attracted Pakistan’s interest to develop closer sociopolitical, cultural and particularly commercial ties with the region. Since 2001, Pakistan has taken some of the very proactive diplomatic initiatives aimed to improve its bilateral relations with the region that were otherwise fragile during the era of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan, at the same time, is also engaged in multilateralism to expand its engagement with its regional neighbors including the CARs. Fundamentally and historically, the basic objectives of Pakistan vis-à-vis the CARs have remained unchanged, represented by import and export missions.
Author is Editor of ‘Mélange int’l Magazine’ and ‘ The Asian Telegraph’ can reached arshans21@yahoo.com

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