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Business leaders urge FTA to boost Pak-Kazakh trade

The Express Tribune | 25 November 2023

Business leaders urge FTA to boost Pak-Kazakh trade

by APP

ISLAMABAD: Local business leaders and traders are calling for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to elevate bilateral trade between Pakistan and Kazakhstan to the $1 billion mark.

President of the Federation Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, highlighted the pivotal role of the business community in achieving this ambitious trade target. He stated, “After the FTA, there is a huge potential to take bilateral trade to $1 billion on both sides.” Irfan highlighted the strategic significance of both Pakistan and Kazakhstan in the region, emphasising the need for regional economic integration.

At the end of 2022, mutual trade between the two nations stood at $195 million, which falls significantly short of its potential, according to President FPCCI. He expressed hope that the recent initiation of direct flights between Lahore and Almaty would foster economic ties and benefit businesses on both sides.

President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce, Ahsan Zafar Bakhtavari, echoed the sentiment, stating that the current bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and Kazakhstan is much less than its potential. He underscored the importance of Central Asia in global trade and energy resources, stressing the need to strengthen trade relations between the two countries.

President of Faisal Chamber of Commerce, Dr Khurram Tariq, mentioned the recent visit of Kazakhstani businessmen to Faisalabad, emphasising the potential benefits for the textile trade between the two nations. He highlighted the historical trade partnership between Central Asia and Pakistan and expressed the desire to enhance trade relations in the future.

Kazakhstan, rich in hydrocarbons and minerals, presents a strategic opportunity for Pakistan. The country’s export basket includes mineral fuels, iron and steel, ores, slag and ash, copper, and inorganic chemicals. On the other hand, Pakistan’s exports to Kazakhstan consist of cereals, edible fruits and nuts, pharmaceutical, surgical, and leather products.

In light of Kazakhstan’s impressive economic growth and strategic location as a transit hub, business leaders are urging the initiation of negotiations for a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) in the medium term, with an eventual FTA as part of the long-term strategy for Central Asian Republics. Addressing challenges such as payment issues and cargo logistics will be crucial for the success of this economic collaboration.

 source: The Express Tribune