Minister offers SCO members to use Pakistani ports amid CPEC

ISLAMABAD/XIAN: Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir on Wednesday offered the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) members to use Pakistani ports once the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is complete to get access to trade routes through the Arabian Sea.

He was addressing the gathering at the meeting of the SCO commerce ministers in Xian, China. SCO members include China, Kazakhastan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The minister said that Pakistan’s trade strategy focuses on developing linkages with our neighbours, leveraging our geographical location, and capitalising on regional connectivity initiatives. He emphasised that cross-border land trade is important for the landlocked member countries, as Pakistan and SCO countries would benefit substantially from greater integration through energy, commerce and transit trade.

He said that CPEC is a landmark initiative under the umbrella of One Belt One Road and this economic corridor would connect the nodes of growth centres, falling between Kashgar and Gwadar. CPEC envisages connectivity and expansion of trade and investment through a network of roads, rail, fibre optic cables and energy pipelines, he added.

Dastgir was of the view that Pakistan’s geo-strategic position offers the Central Asian states access to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea and huge markets of South Asia. He said that Pakistan provides critical overland routes and connectivity for mutually beneficial trade and energy transactions.

“In line with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s vision of shared prosperity through onnectivity, Pakistan has undertaken several initiatives that include rebooting of Quadrilateral Agreement for Traffic in Transit (QTTA) between China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan and Pakistan. The QTTA provides Pakistan a gateway to Central Asia and the landlocked Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan access to Pakistani seaports via CPEC,” he added.

The minister informed the gathering that to further facilitate intra-regional connectivity, Pakistan recently has acceded to TIR Convention, which would ensure a more efficient and faster movement of goods across our borders to the countries of Central Asia.

He said that one of strategic aim is to utilise Pakistan’s unique geo-political position to build trade, energy and communications corridors linking South Asia, West Asia, Central Asia and China.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has visited all the countries in SCO after assuming the office in order to explore and develop strong political, economic and trade ties with these countries. Pakistan has an observer status at SCO and is scheduled to become full member state in January 2016, which would provide new impetus to Pakistan’s relations with the member states.

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