Importance of Pak-Afghan private sector collaboration underscored

23 Mar, 2024

KARACHI: Leadership of the United Business Group (UBG), S M Tanveer, Zubair Tufail, Khalid Tawab, Hanif Gohar, Mazher Ali Nasir, has underscored the importance of private sector collaboration between Pakistan and Afghanistan to unlock the trade potential within the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) region.

Emphasising the need for intensified interaction between trade bodies of both nations, they highlighted the opportunity for closer bilateral and inter-regional trade promotion within the ECO, home to a population of 440 million people.

Against the backdrop of recent developments in Afghanistan, UBG leaders discussed the economic prospects of the ECO region, noting its geo-strategic position and abundant energy resources, which position it as a potential engine of global economic growth.

Drawing parallels with the success of regional organizations like ASEAN and the European Union (EU), they stressed the need for ECO countries to leverage their natural resources effectively.

Comprising 10 members, including Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, among others, the ECO region boasts significant natural resource reserves, particularly in oil, natural gas, and minerals.

Despite this, its contribution to the international economy remains modest, with intra-regional trade accounting for only 5% and Pakistan’s trade with ECO nations representing a mere 3% of its total trade.

UBG leaders proposed joint initiatives between trade bodies of Pakistan and Afghanistan to promote sectors such as transport, telecommunications, trade, investment, agriculture, industry, and tourism within the ECO framework.

They urged increased awareness among members regarding key agreements like the ECO Preferential Trade Agreement (ECOPTA), ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA), and others, aimed at enhancing trade cooperation and reducing tariff barriers.

Highlighting progress made, UBG noted that ECOTA has been ratified by several member states, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, and Turkey. Additionally, they recommended the establishment of ECO Desks within Pakistani trade bodies to facilitate awareness and foster intra-regional trade and socio-economic activities within the ECO region.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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