Islamabad: Minister for Finance, Asad Umar said that Pakistan wants to enhance trade relations with all its neighbours and regional countries, including India, Iran, and Turkey.
Addressing the 11th annual report, launched by Burky Institute of Public Policy, the minister said that Iran was an important neighbour of Pakistan in the west and the world should stop creating trade barriers between the two countries.
“Whenever the World Bank and other international bodies come to me, they
always say that intra-regional trade is extremely important for boosting economic growth, and also they advise to resume good trade ties with India, but strangely nobody asks me about another important neighbour in the west, which is Iran,” he added.
“Impediments have been created for trading between Pakistan and Iran, and I am mixed up on how that criteria (is) fix(ed) in the economic theory that trade with neighbour in the east is good, whereas trade with neighbours in the west is not good,” the minister said.
He expressed hope that the “hypocrisy of the global community” would reduce with time.
Umar said the prime minister had already taken the initiative to start developing trade relationship with India, and hopefully the new leadership of India after the general election, would give positive response to the PM’s move.
He said during his visit to Turkey along with Prime Minister Imran Khan last week, he also discussed enhancing trade bonds between the two countries with the country’s vice president.
“Our person-to-person and government-to-government bonds are amazing, but trade relations do not reflect this kind of relationship,” he added.
He said in order to transform the relations with Turkey into genuine economic ties, a medium-term strategic economic framework was proposed during that meeting.
In this regard, he said the first meeting was going to be held here today (Thursday) and hopefully in April; the two countries would sign that framework.
The Pakistani government acknowledges that China, and Saudi Arabia helped the country in a difficult time, he said and assured that this was the last time Pakistan reached out to its friendly countries for help.
With respect to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said CPEC was a bilateral partnership, but with consent of both the countries, it had been decided that third countries would also be invited to invest in some of the CPEC projects.
This, he said was decided because the idea was that connectivity does not just remain confined to north-south but also to expands in the western world.
He said the government wanted to transform the infrastructural phase of CPEC to a genuine economic corridor.
“If we create trade, knowledge, and industrial linkages, then we will be able to make CPEC a genuine economic corridor.”
In the second phase of CPEC, the minister said that the private sector would be encouraged to take the driving seat by largely participating in the mega project.
“CPEC was going to be the centre of gravity of the global economy in the 21th century, and Pakistan would not just be a beneficiary (of) this regional growth but would be a contributor to it,” the finance minister said.