Pakistan and Uzbekistan on Friday held discussions on establishing a trade corridor and providing Central Asian countries access to Pakistani seaports.
Special terminals for Central Asian goods and a dedicated shipping fleet to handle exports from these countries were among the proposals discussed in a meeting between Sardor Umurzakov, Uzbekistan’s deputy prime minister for investment and foreign trade, and Ali Haider Zaidi, minister for Pakistan’s maritime affairs.
Pakistan’s ports are the “cheapest route” for Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries to send exports to Gulf countries, Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa, the country’s Maritime Ministry said in a statement.
It said the two sides “discussed the establishment of trade routes and utilization of Pakistani seaports to connect Central Asian Republics to the world.”
They also spoke about the formation of a Joint Working Group to oversee the execution of the plan.
The proposed trade corridor would “increase manifold” the volume of trade between Uzbekistan and Pakistan, which has already risen significantly over the past few years, the statement said.
Pakistan has the “requisite environment to benefit from this opportunity” and achieve its aim of fulfilling its potential “as the shortest and cheapest route to the world, hence making it a gateway to Central, South and Southeast Asia,” the statement added.
Earlier, Umurzakov met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in the capital Islamabad.
Khan said Pakistan was “keenly” awaiting a visit from Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
He reaffirmed Islamabad’s desire “to work with Uzbekistan to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation, bilaterally and in the region,” read a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Umurzakov said Uzbekistan wants to improve economic relations with Pakistan through better connectivity and investments in the country.
He also extended an invitation to Khan on behalf of President Mirziyoyev to visit Uzbekistan.