Pakistan-Azerbaijan to enhance cooperation under CPEC

n a recent development, Uzbekistan has agreed to become part of the Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA) that already has been signed among Pakistan, China, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The QTTA provides an alternative gateway to Central Asia through China. Meanwhile, Ambassador of Azerbaijan Ali Alizada has expressed willingness to expand bilateral cooperation in multiple sectors under CPEC.

ISLAMABAD: In a major development, Pakistan has decided to have access to market of Central Asian States through China as Uzbekistan has agreed to become part of the Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement(QTTA) already signed among Pakistan, China, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Sardor Umur Zakov on Investment and Foreign Trade along with a 7-8 member delegation is due today (Thursday) in Islamabad for a one-day visit and will hold a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He will also meet Adviser to the PM on Commerce, Textile and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood and will hold talks to explore more avenues for increasing the bilateral trade between the two countries. The Uzbek delegation will also hold meetings with top officials of the Maritime Ministry, a senior official told The News.

Afghanistan has been, he said, reluctant to provide access to Pakistani products for reaching out to the huge market of Central Asian States as it linked Central Asian States with allowing Indian goods to the market of Afghanistan through land route. The QTTA provides an alternative gateway to Central Asia by completely circumnavigating Afghanistan. Pakistan would use the Karakorum Highway, which connects Gilgit-Baltistan to China’s Xinjiang region which links with Central Asian States. Pakistan would support the desire of Uzbekistan to become part of the QTTA. Uzbekistan has since long been expressing seriousness to join the QTTA, which will enable Pakistan to export its products under QTTA to Central Asia.

During the visit, the official said that Uzbekistan and Pakistan will sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for increasing the bilateral trade between them. And both the countries would also form the Joint Working Group on how to advance on investment and trade.

Earlier in May 2020, Razak Dawood invited the Deputy Prime Minister to visit Pakistan along with a delegation to discuss bilateral economic relations. Razak Dawood reiterated that the trade and investment relations between the two countries will be strengthened through institutional mechanisms and private sector joint ventures.

He said that Uzbekistan is also very keen to invest in Pakistan’s Karachi port as it wants to have access to the market of Middle East countries. The investment in Karachi port will also help increase the regional connectivity for trade among the regional economies. And to this effect, the Uzbek delegation will hold talks with officials of Maritime Ministry in this regard. The bilateral trade between the two countries is not up to the mark as in 2019 trade turnover of Uzbekistan with Pakistan reached more than $122 million. In 2018, the volume was estimated at $98 million while in 2017 it was just $36.6 million. Both the countries, however, have the potential to increase the bilateral trade up to $1 billion in next 5-6 years.

He said that Pakistan can import cotton or cottonseed from Uzbekistan and there is a potential for Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry to export its products to Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan can export oil and gas, minerals and other products to Pakistan. Pakistan is also keen to develop backward and forward linkages in the textile, leather, and agriculture sectors with Uzbekistan.

September 9, 2020: Speaker Asad Qaiser has said that Pakistan and Azerbaijan share an enduring diplomatic relationship and the similarities between the two countries are striking not only for having a similar cultural, religious, and geopolitical outlook but similar views on regional and international issues. Speaking during a meeting with Ambassador of Azerbaijan Ali Alizada, in Parliament House on Tuesday, he said that Azerbaijan being an important country in Asia could play its role in OIC and other regional forums to raise the plight of people of illegally occupied Kashmir. Asad Qaiser underlined the need for closer cooperation between Pakistan and Azerbaijan inter-parliamentary relations for the development of political and economic relations between the two countries. He said that Pak- Azerbaijan Parliamentary friendship group could be an apt forum to enhance those relations. He also stressed the need to reinvigorate Parliamentary Union of ECO member states (PAECO).

Referring to the issue of Kashmir, the Speaker NA said that it was flash point of South Asia and may trigger escalation if not peacefully settled as per aspiration people of Kashmir. He said that Indian government stripped Kashmir of its autonomy and unique regional identity through the revocation of Article 370 and 35-A of Indian constitution.

He said that decision to rescind the status was followed by an organised brutal crackdown against innocent civilians including women and children and crippling any sign of life in the illegally occupied Valley and other parts of the region.

Says Azerbaijan can play its role in OIC, other regional forums to raise plight of people of Held Kashmir

Touching upon the issue of Nagorno Karabakh conflict, Asad Qaider said that Pakistan supports Azerbaijan’s fair position. He said that Pakistan has always supported Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity in the settlement of the conflict over Nagorno Karabakh in accordance with the UN resolutions.

Referring to the CPEC, the speaker said that both the countries can acquire a bigger volume of trade in the upcoming future. He said that immense scope of cooperation existed between both the countries therefore Azerbaijan mission in Islamabad could play a pivotal role in this regard. He suggested closer interaction between Commerce and Agriculture Committees of both the legislatures for further enhancing mutual trade and economic ties.

The Ambassador of Azerbaijan Ali Alizada said that his country also attaches to immense importance to its relations with Pakistan. He said that they are steadily accelerating and both always enjoyed longstanding warm and cordial relations.

The envoy said that his country wholeheartedly supports Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir. He said that his country stands with Kashmiris in their struggle for the right of self-determination. He expressed gratitude to the government of Pakistan for extending diplomatic support on issue of Nagorno Karabakh.

Ambassador Ali Alizada said that Azerbaijan wants to strengthen the economic and cultural ties along with mutual trade. He said that with the operational of CPEC and growing regional connectivity will also provide both the two countries to cooperate in multiple sectors. He agreed for enhancing parliamentary cooperation between two legislatures.