KARACHI: The Ambassador of Kazakhstan Yerzhan Kistafin has said that Kazakhstan intends to sign a Transit Trade Agreement with Pakistan which was very important as it would provide a legal framework to the businesspeople of both countries for developing trade ties. “We are also planning to sign an agreement between the State Bank of Pakistan and National Bank of Kazakhstan to develop legal framework for cooperation in the banking sector.”
“We are further planning to arrange visit of President of Kazakhstan to Pakistan this year and we will be signing a number of bilateral agreements, MOUs and commercial contracts during the said visit of our President. I invite Karachi Chamber to be part of the success story and I am pretty sure that with your contribution, we will be able to further strengthen the existing ties”, he said while speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Senior Vice President KCCI Touseef Ahmed, Vice President KCCI Haris Agar, Chairman Diplomatic Missions & Embassies Liaison Subcommittee Zia ul Arfeen, Former President KCCI Muhammad Idrees, Former SVP Arshad Islam, Former VP Qazi Zahid Hussain and KCCI Managing Committee6 Members also attended the meeting.
Kazakhstani Ambassador also expressed the intentions to develop cooperation between the businesspeople in Karachi and Almaty by declaring them as sister cities, in addition to developing cooperation between Karachi Chamber and Chamber of Commerce of Almaty which would certainly give boost trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. “We are also trying to connect transit land routes between Kazakhstan and Pakistan and I am happy to see that TCS is now delivery consignments between two countries on a regular basis via Afghanistan and they can even provide insurance facility for your products”, he added.
While referring to his meetings from time to time with various Chambers of Commerce, he said that the business people, who are very pragmatic, raised three main issues hindering trade, investment and economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and Pakistan including lack of connectivity which was a major hurdle in developing bilateral trade but it has been resolved now as on April 26, direct flight between Lahore and Almaty will be launched which will be followed by commencement of direct flights Karachi and Almaty from May this year.
“The second issue identified was pertaining to visa facilitation which has also been fixed by our Embassy as we now take around three to five days only to issue visa to those individuals who submit a letter from Chamber of Commerce along with their visa application”, said Yerzhan Kistafin, “The third issue was pertaining to banking and I can happily inform that during our Deputy Prime Minister’s visit to Islamabad in December last year to attend 11th session of bilateral Inter-governmental Joint Commission, an MoU was signed between Bank of Punjab and Bank Center Credit Kazakhstan for establishing cooperation between our banks which would result in availability of formal banking channel facilitating all the transactions of businesspeople.”
He further noted that for the first time, businesspeople from Kazakhstan visited Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi in the month of February whereas Single Country Exhibitions were also staged in Pakistan and Almaty wherein more than 100 businesspeople from Pakistan participated. “The business communities of the two countries can develop cooperation in pharmaceutical, sports goods, agriculture, textile, construction and IT sectors etc. All we need is to develop strong connections between our businesspeople.”
While requesting KCCI to send a trade delegation to Kazakhstan on commencement of direct flight from Karachi in May, he said that Karachi was the financial hub of Pakistan, hence, its business community should take lead in further developing trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.
Earlier, Senior Vice President KCCI Touseef Ahmed, while warmly welcoming the Ambassador, stated that Kazakhstan was a part of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) which was an economic regional block comprising Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan & Russia formed in 2015, hence, Pakistan can take advantage of easily accessing the huge Eurasian market through Kazakhstan.
“Despite strong bilateral relations between the two countries, Pakistan’s exports to Kazakhstan stood at a meagre of $107.87 million in FY22 as compared to $79.69 million in FY21, representing a growth of around 35.36 percent but during six months of current fiscal year, our exports to Kazakhstan dropped by 42 percent to $36.62 million compared to $68 million last year which needs to enhanced to a reasonable level through mutual cooperation”, he said.
Touseef Ahmed also invited Kazakhstani authorities and the business community to participate in Karachi Chamber’s “My Karachi Exhibition beginning from 3rd to 5th March 2023 which would be a wonderful platform for Kazakhstani private sector to explore businesses, markets & investment opportunities.
He was of the view that both countries have great potential for diversifying trade relations and entering into joint ventures in the areas of agriculture, processing, IT, textile, energy, logistics, housing & construction sector. “CPEC and Gwadar Port provide shortest route to Kazakhstan for strengthening bilateral trade, exports and economic development and improving connectivity.” DNA