PM inaugurates Uzbek-Pakistan Business Forum

-PM calls for strengthening Trade ties with Uzbekistan
-Hopes Trade connectivity to open up new avenues of region’s prosperity
-Terms peace in Afghanistan imperative for region
-Lays wreath at Uzbekistan’s Independence & Humanism Monument
-FM says immense potential for Pak-Uzbek trade to flourish

DM Monitoring

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Uzbekistan-Pakistan Business Forum, said PMO in a statement on Thursday.
According to a presser released by the Prime Minister Office (PMO) here, the event was organized by Pakistan in coordination with Uzbek authorities in Tashkent with a view to boosting bilateral trade and economic relations. The Prime Minister of Uzbekistan, Mr Abdulla Aripov, participated in the inauguration ceremony and delivered remarks.
Addressing the Forum, Mr. Khan highlighted the relations between the two countries, stating that they go back “centuries”.
“It is personally a great pleasure for me to visit Uzbekistan, a country which we are connected to culturally, historically and spiritually,” he said. He assured the business community that this relationship was just beginning to grow, voicing his appreciation for the gracious welcomed that had been extended to him upon his arrival.
“I have complaints from different business houses on my mobile phone, asking why they weren’t invited on this trip,” he said, adding that there was a lot of “enthusiasm” in Pakistan regarding this.
“Our business and trade relationship is going to depend on how quickly we are able to connect with each other. The Trans Afghan Railway project is the most important project for Uzbekistan and Pakistan,” he said. “For Pakistan, it connects us to Central Asia, to Uzbekistan which is the biggest of the Central Asian republics and beyond.”
Commenting on the situation in Afghanistan, the premier said that Pakistan wanted a political settlement in the neighbouring country for “mutually beneficial” connectivity between Pakistan and Uzbekistan. “For the business community, it will raise the standard of living in both the countries,” he said.
He said that he was a student in England when the European Union was formed and he had noted that the standard of living went up in all the countries which became a part of the bloc. “Their trade increased with their neighbours and the standard of living went up. This is why this trip is important for us, because of the connections that our business community will make with your business community.”
He said that he was informed that many Pakistani business houses had already signed major contracts a day earlier, specifically in the textile sector. “We are all hoping that the connections between the two countries will get deeper by the time we go back,” he said.
He said that the government was working on ensuring frequent flights between the countries.
Speaking to media in Tashkent, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan and Uzbekistan had vast potential to explore the opportunities of bilateral trade and investment for their mutual interest.
The foreign minister, who is part of the official delegation of Prime Minister Imran Khan during his visit to Tashkent and attended the Pak-Uzbek Business Forum, said the business community from the two sides showed immense interest in bilateral engagement.
He mentioned that the Pak-Uzbek Business Forum was attended by around 130 representatives of leading companies and business houses from Pakistan. He said the activity resulted in signing of agreements worth $453 million and hoped that it would lead to further strengthening of bilateral trade.
Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said two important objectives of the prime minister’s visit were to ensure travel facilities among Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan and to deliberate upon ways to ensure peace in Afghanistan. He said Pakistan desired an effective trade linkage up to Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states.
“We want an effective transportation infrastructure so that the goods loaded from Pakistan’s Karachi and Gwadar seaports could reach Uzbekistan’s Tashkent,” he said in a video message from the Uzbek capital. He hoped that such measure would increase trade with Uzbekistan “manifold”, and also mentioned the excellent efforts made by the Ministry of Commerce in this regard.
Earlier in the day, the premier arrived in Tashkent accompanied by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi and National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf.
According to details, talks between the leadership of the two countries will cover the entire gamut of bilateral relations, with a particular focus on trade, economic cooperation and connectivity. The leaders will also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest. During the visit, a number of agreements and MoUs will be signed in areas of mutual interest, including transportation of goods, cooperation between chambers of commerce of the two countries, trade, education, culture and tourism, the report said.
On the invitation of the Uzbek president, the prime minister will participate in the International Conference on Central and South Asia Regional Connectivity: Challenges and Opportunities.
Meanwhile, Khan laid a wreath at Independence and Humanism Monument of Uzbekistan as a gesture of respect to the history and culture of the Uzbek people.