ISLAMABAD: Aimed at increasing regional trade and connectivity, Uzbekistan has initiated work on the proposal of laying railway line that would be connecting Uzbekistan-Russia-Kazakhstan-Afghanistan-Pakistan. It is worth mentioning that on December 3-4, a meeting of the heads of railway administration of these five countries was held in Tashkent.
To facilitate the trade a proposal for railway line is in the process which will pass through Uzbekistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and also in order to boost trade a commission is also proposed by the Uzbek side and if materialized it will be beneficial for the landlocked countries and time and money could be saved, Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan to Pakistan Furqat Sidiqov said. Official sources said while quoting the ambassador as saying that they (Uzbekistan) has shared the proposal with Afghanistan, now it is with Kabul to work on it and give them the reply.
The ambassador stated this in a meeting with the Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan here on Wednesday. He also said that his country was interested to import meat and dairy products from Pakistan and also wants to export cotton and agricultural machinery, especially tractors and can also help Pakistan in pest resistance cotton seed development and export.
The Uzbek ambassador said that regarding the import of Uzbek cotton through Torkham border, we can adopt new approach and centralize the whole system and do away with “shadow economy”. He also informed that they still have 100,000 metric ton cotton and they can export it. He also said that they have the capacity to make their own cotton seeds and they could make special seeds for Pakistan, which is naturally resistant to various diseases. Uzbekistan imports five million tons of sugar and can resort to Pakistan as we still need sugar.
Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan said that we have 1.8 million tons of surplus sugar. Similarly we could export dairy and meat and find a new market in the region. Pakistani Federal Food Minister is also co-chair from Pakistan side for the Uzbek Joint Inter-Governmental Commission (JIGC), the next session of which is scheduled to be held in March next year in Tashkent in which an MoU in the area of agriculture is expected to be signed. Exchange of high level delegation between the two countries had taken place last year and both the countries mutually agreed to move ahead in the field of agro-cooperation.
Sultan said the trade volume between the two countries could be increased and Uzbek exporters should be directly accessed by the Pakistan cotton importers as the cotton imported through Afghan border last month was actually Uzbek cotton.
Pakistan is in need of viable agro machinery and especially cotton related machinery and tractors which could be imported from Uzbekistan.Pakistan is importing vegetables and fruit of $70 million from Uzbekistan and Pakistan exports sugar, potatoes and citrus fruit and others of $60 million to Uzbekistan. Pakistan is second biggest trade partner of Uzbekistan in the Central Asian region after Russia.