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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Uzbekistan are all set to sign Transit Trade Agreement (TTA) on Thursday (July 15) in Tashkent, allowing each other to use their respective facilities for transshipment of their goods.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is also In-charge Minister for Commerce, will witness the signing ceremony. The TTA will allow passage of goods, vehicles and drivers, in Uzbekistan and its border points with other Central Asian Republics (CARs) including rail and road. Pakistan will grant similar facilities except for India. Uzbeks can use our sea ports. The TTA will be governed under the Convention of Customs Convention on the International Transport of Goods under Cover of TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers).

On April 30, 2021, the first shipment on the TIR left for Uzbekistan via Torkham border custom station.

Uzbekistan already has a Transit Trade Agreement with Afghanistan whereas Pakistan has its own agreement with Afghanistan, which implies after the agreement there will be smooth flow of goods, the sources continued.

Both countries have almost finalized Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) but Tashkent is not ready to sign it for the time being, citing reasons for the delay.

On April 14, 2021, President Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Prime Minister Imran Khan held their first Virtual Summit. President of Uzbekistan extended his invitation to Prime Minister Imran Khan, to attend the high-level International Conference on regional connectivity to be held in July 2021. The two leaders agreed that cooperation in trade and economic sphere was a key priority to consolidate partnership between the two countries. They also recognized the enormous economic potential for a mutually beneficial relationship.

They agreed to enhance volume of bilateral trade through adopting joint measures by diversification of trade, increasing business-to-business contacts, exchange of trade delegations and extending visa facilitation.

The two leaders underscored the importance of regional integration and connectivity as cornerstone of economic development and progress. They welcomed exchange of high-level visits in the fields of trade, railway and aviation in this regard.

The importance of convening the Uzbekistan-Pakistan business week and business conference in Tashkent in July, 2021 was also discussed. Official sources told business Recorder that over eight dozen businessmen will also attend the conference and have B2B meetings with the trading counterparts.

According to study conducted by Pakistan Business Council (PBC) there are several alternatives for shipping consignments from Pakistan to Tashkent, including the lowest cost shipping alternative, shipping alternative with cost advantage, shipping alternative with transit time advantage and environmentally friendly shipping alternative.

The lowest cost shipping alternative from Lahore to Tashkent gives a freight rate index of 4,406, a transit time estimate of 3.7 days and a carbon dioxide emission index of 2,334 while the lowest cost shipping alternative from Karachi to Tashkent gives a freight rate index of 6,615, a transit time estimate of 5.2 days and a carbon dioxide emission index of 3,640. The shipping alternative with cost advantage from Karachi to Tashkent gives a freight rate index of 9,214, a transit time estimate of 38.3 days and a carbon dioxide emission index of 3,422. The shipment moves from Muhammad Bin Qasim port (Karachi) to Singapore port, from Singapore port to Tianjin Xingang port, from Tianjin Xingang port to Tianjin rail yard, from Tianjin rail yard to Chimkent rail yard finally reaching Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The geographical distance between Pakistan and Uzbekistan is roughly 1,295 kilometers. However, the distance between Karachi and Tashkent is roughly 2,950 kilometers while the distance between Lahore and Tashkent is roughly 1,917 kilometers.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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