The Express Tribune | 12 February 2023
Kazakhstan to sign trade agreement
by Usman Hanif
KARACHI : Kazakhstan plans to sign a Transit Trade Agreement (TTA) with Pakistan to provide a legal framework for businesses alongside an agreement between banks of both countries to develop cooperation in the banking sector.
While talking to businessmen at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Ambassador of Kazakhstan, Yerzhan Kistafin said, “Kazakhstan intends to sign a TTA with Pakistan which is very important as it will provide a legal framework to the businessmen of both countries to develop trade ties.”
“We are also planning on signing an agreement between the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and National Bank of Kazakhstan to develop a legal framework for cooperation in the banking sector,” he said.
“This will open up a lot of avenues for Pakistan as it will not only provide a gateway into Kazakhstan but will also open doors to the Central Asian Republics (CARs),” he said.
Speaking to the Express Tribune, Lasbela Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President, Ismail Suttar said, “This is a very good initiative for both Pakistan as well as CARs – which are landlocked countries for which Pakistani ports can play a vital role.”
“This was not possible when the situation in Afghanistan was not good. At present, however, they are ready to help in transit trade and it is high time that Pakistan takes advantage of this opportunity,” he said.
Karachi SITE Industrial Area based businessman, Muhammad Raza highlighted that, “It is imperative to involve the Afghan government in this agreement as all the products will be routed through Afghanistan and we need a transit agreement with Afghanistan.”
“I am happy to see that TCS Courier is now delivering consignments between the two countries on a regular basis via Afghanistan. They can even provide insurance facilities for your products,” suggested Kistafin.
Referring to his meetings with various chambers of commerce, the ambassador noted that “The business community highlighted three main issues hindering trade, investment and economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and Pakistan. These include a lack of connectivity – which was a major hurdle in developing bilateral trade but has been resolved as from April 26 onwards, direct flights between Lahore and Almaty will be launched. These will be followed by the commencement of direct flights from Karachi to Almaty from May this year.”
“The second issue identified pertains to visa facilitation which has also been fixed by our embassy,” he said, explaining that it now takes only three to five days to issue visas to those who submit a letter from a chamber of commerce along with their visa application.
“The third issue pertains to banking and I can happily inform that during our deputy prime minister’s visit to Islamabad in December last year, an MoU was signed between the Bank of Punjab and Bank CenterCredit Kazakhstan to establish cooperation between our banks which shall result in availability of formal banking channels,” said Kistafin.