Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)-  Pakistan and Uzbekistan have begun talks on a preferential trade agreement (PTA). The Pakistani commerce advisor Abdul Razak Dawood has arrived in Tashkent to begin five days of negotiations.

Islamabad and Tashkent have long discussed establishing a “trade corridor”, especially as the volume of trade between the two countries has risen significantly in the last few years. In 2017, Uzbek exports to Pakistan—mostly agricultural products—amounted to under $10 million. In just three years, exports have risen to nearly $100 million.

A PTA should assist both countries, especially double landlocked Uzbekistan, which sees Pakistani ports as the cheapest route to send its exports to Gulf countries. Equally, Pakistan’s lucrative textile industry—comprising approximately two-thirds of the country’s entire economy—would benefit from access to cheaper Uzbek cotton.

There are existing deep historical, religious and cultural links between the two countries, in addition to already favorable investment conditions. From an economic security perspective, stronger bilateral trade ties could reduce Pakistan’s dependence on a hostile India for much of its cotton imports.

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